The Oscar Brown, Jr. ARCHIVE PROJECT
A fantastic partnership was established in the fall of 2018, when Maggie & Africa became artists-in-Residence at the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts, at the University of Chicago. It began as a result of a generous grant from the Ravada Foundation. One fortuitous day while at the Logan Center, Dan Logan (one of the donors’ sons) introduced himself to Maggie, and expressed his interest in helping with the work she had been doing to keep up with the materials of her father. As a result, within the following twelve months, a plan and implementation of the Oscar Brown, Jr. Archive Project at Logan Center for the Arts, was underway. Working as Co-Project Managers of the Oscar Brown, Jr. Archive Project, empowers the Brown sisters to revive their fathers’ legacy and ensure its potential for publication and celebration by current and future generations.
[photo: Africa, Dan Logan, Maggie & Bill Michel at the Logan Center]
Following a successful first round of their Residency, phase II of the OBJ AP began at the top of 2020. While Covid-19 has temporarily closed the U of C campus, thus postponing the public performances and other plans for 2020, the Brown sisters are working on the digital archiving and developing content for release on the web. Conception, design, and coordination of this OscarBrownJr.Org site is among the tasks completed during phase II.
“I think Oscar Brown, Jr is one of the most creative young men in the musical world today.”
- Nina Simone, 1960.
Only a small fraction of his poems, songs, musical plays, and essays have been published. His vast, eclectic body of work, defies narrow definition. The point of this OscarBrownJr.Org website is to reveal the breadth of his writing and share Oscar Brown, Jr’s artistic outpouring and philosophies with a world audience.
OBJ AP Plays On Stage
Five Live Play Readings in Phase I - 2018/19
The OBJ Archive Project at the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts
Journey Through Forever - The inaugural play reading in the series was on what would have been Oscar’s 92nd birthday, October 10, 2018. Original cast members and stellar Chicago guest vocalists joined the Brown sisters for this musical
In De Beginnin’ - On November 18, 2018, Oscar’s musical based on the book of Genesis and creation story was read with the full score of songs performed. This musical is one of several of Oscar Brown, Jr’s plays written entirely in verse.
Crecie - This is a masterpiece operetta Oscar Brown, Jr wrote not only in verse, but strictly adhering to iambic pentameter with rhyming quatrains. On a Sunday afternoon, January 20, 2019, the OBJ Archive Project series hosted a 14 member cast to resurrect the songs and powerful, poetic dialog of what should be discovered as a phenomenal American theater piece.
Cybersoul - On February 24, 2019, the Brown sisters took initiative from the directors’ notes which OBJ left, detailing his concept for high-tech production, intended for a millennials’ approach, and utilizing multiple tv screens. This play had never been staged by Oscar, requiring Maggie and Africa to collaborate with their father posthumously on the music, marrying his lyrics with new music they helped compose with arranger and vocalist Dayana Lynn Nuckolls.
Kicks & Co - March 18, 2019, almost sixty years after this major musical was first produced with the help of Lorraine Hansberry, at Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, the OBJ Archive Project staged a reading of this “ahead of its time” story of the sit-in movement and of MR. KICKS - “satan’s sinful servant ”- who has targeted student leaders for corruption.
Press & Publications on The OBJ Archive Project
Video Segment & Interview of “Cybersoul” Reading
From filmmaker, Tyler Sonnemaker, at North Western University