Aaron Neville Artistic Home
Part of the Arts & Ideas Festival - IDEAS
Aaron Neville is a giant of American music whose roots are in New Orleans and Louisiana, and whose music has captured the imagination of generations of listeners. Neville is opening the International Festival of Arts & Ideas with a concert on the Elm Stage on the evening of June 15.
At this conversation, Neville talks about his new record and provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his music and his artistic heritage. Deborah Willis, photographer and past collaborator with Aaron Neville, moderates the conversation.
About the moderator
Deborah Willis, PhD, is the Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment as a University Professor with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. She is an exhibiting photographer and was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fletcher Fellow and a MacArthur Fellow. Willis is the author of Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, Out [o]Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty, Reflections In Black and Let Your Motto Be Resistance. Her co-authored book, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs received the 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work Biography/Autobiography. She also co-authored "Envisioning Emancipation," which was published by Temple University Press.
Willis’s essay “Angola Bound: A look at life in Louisiana's Angola Prison,” was published in Aperture Magazine with photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick verse by Aaron Neville. Inspired by the moving verses of songwriter Aaron Neville, Calhoun and McCormick decided to take a look at life behind bars at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola near Baton Rouge. Deborah Willis visited the photographers in New Orleans not long before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The images published in the issue were among the few of the photographers that survived Katrina. Willis’s text coupled with Neville’s verses and McCormick and Calhoun’s images poignantly document the tragic cycle of crime and incarceration in one of America’s maximum-security prisons.