This performance is a stripped-down version of “Black Valhalla,” a piece Nailah Hunter wrote after the lynchings of two young black men in Palmdale, CA.
Nailah’s stunning piece repeats the line, “tell me when you’ve made it home,” reminding us of the nuanced reality that we must look out for each other. What are the ways you practice community care and safety within your communities, families, friendships, and neighborhood to empower each other? How would you begin to shift away from structures and systems never created nor intended to serve and protect BIPOC communities? Who do you reach out to for community safety and care?
How did you first start playing the harp?
I was gifted a small harp when I started art college. I began concert harp lessons at the school soon after that.
What drew you to the harp?
I fell in love with the transportive, diaphanous timbre of the harp when I was very young. Film composers love to use harp for fantasy scores, so I listened to a lot of harp music as a child. The way it can sound like falling water, bright bells, and the deepest caverns in the sea, all at once, is what makes it irresistible to me.
What colors, textures, and visuals currently inspire your compositions?
I've been exploring the sound of age. I already play an instrument that most people associate with the days of yore, so I've been experimenting with pedals and microphones to find that sound that conjures images of ancient warmth, like candlelight.
What are the ways you practice radical rest?
Communing with nature always feels like a radical act of care. Lately, I've been enjoying solo trips to the beach with my littlest harp. When I sing into the roar of the sea and play whatever comes to me I feel free.
How do you and your community honor and uplift the legacy of Juneteenth?
I honor the legacy of Juneteenth by openly reflecting on black history, by talking about it with people who don't know what Juneteenth is, by acknowledging the great triumphs of black people, by somehow pushing through the pain & injustice, and cultivating joy in my life.
Harpist, Vocalist and Composer
Nailah Hunter is a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Los Angeles. She combines harp, synth, found sounds, and voice to create reflective sonic landscapes that promote healing and self-awareness for herself and the listener. Her ambient music conjures unique sonic locations forged by imagination, drawing listeners into a tranquil world of rest, contemplation and color. Her recent releases include Bassin Bleu (Mexican Summer), Spells (Leaving Records), and Black Valhalla (single available on Bandcamp) which was created to support the Loveland Foundation.