Stories » Jon Batiste music and lyrics to be featured in upcoming 'Life of Basquiat' broadway musical / The Miscellany News

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Jon Batiste music and lyrics to be featured in upcoming 'Life of Basquiat' broadway musical / The Miscellany News

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Award-winning producers Barbara and Alan D. Marks (of "Dear Evan Hansen" and "The Encounter") will present an artistic near-antipode to Basquiat's debut: an original Broadway musical. Having received an okay from the late artist's estate, the project is set to feature music and lyrics from Jon Batiste of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." Tony Award-winning director John Doyle, famous for his productions of "Sweeney Todd" and "The Color Purple," will direct the show. The production crew will have ready access to Basquiat's art and personal archives. The show is in capable hands, and popularizing the subject's story is valuable.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, an anchor of contemporary art, Jean Michel-Basquiat used to sign his pieces SAMO©. The alias originally stood for "same old shit." SAMO© was Basquiat's first art project. He started it with artist Al Diaz, whom he met in high school, and artist Shannon Dawson. The group dominated the New York City graffiti movement in the '70s and '80s. They mainly painted SoHo and the Lower East Side with maxims about "THE SO-CALLED AVANT GARDE," "MASS MEDIA MINDWASH" and the drudgery of "9-5, WENT 2 COLLEGE, NOT 2NITE HONEY BLUES." They told jokes and issued their frustrations with contemporary society. Short and biting, maybe childish, their graffiti covered politics, religion and pop culture, even the surge of artists into SoHo, in the vein of the angsty teen. Basquiat and Diaz inspired copycat artists and pervaded the culture of their canvas, which was starting to retire punk by the end of the '70s. Self-described concept artist Henry Flynt, who photographed several of the group's messages, wrote an essay describing the cultural milieu of New York at the time: "The so-called avant-garde had become a formidable, lucrative, orthodox institution-in which supercilious barrenness was the reigning fashion. By the end of the Seventies, Punk broadened into a crossover culture called New Wave. The Seventies narcissists began to metamorphose into Yuppies." (Slideshare, "Viewing SAMO©," 1993/1997.)

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