The Nine Lives Project’s First Performance During the Rubber City Jazz Fest | Akron, OH (Akron-Summit County Public Library)

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After viewing the Nine Lives Project performance in its entirety at the Akron-Summit County Public Library for the Rubber City Jazz Fest, I immediately knew that Chris Coles has created a piece of work that transcends art.

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Chris Coles, creator of the Nine Lives Project, was “inspired by the Charleston church shooting in 2015 to develop multi-movement suite intended to heighten awareness of ongoing racial injustice in America”. This included visuals and animation from Hannah Taddeo, dance choreography from Gregory King, some lyrical prowess from Jul Big Green, along with a host of other talented dancers and musicians bringing the project to life.

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The performance was full of beautiful and visceral imagery and sounds portraying the lose of the victims in the Mother Emanual AME Church, the depravity of innocence, and the narrative of the treatment of Black people in America. After an extended standing ovation, the Q&A at the end of the performance was equally engaging as the audience inquired about understanding how this project came to be and learning the intention behind it; while also expressing the need to nationally tour this project.

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I have been running the social media, photography, and videography for the Nine Lives Project since April 2019. After having extensive and in-depth conversations with Chris to understand and assist him on how he can express the purpose of Nine Lives, I came to the realization that Coles assembled a talented cast to create something truly special. Watching this performance only solidified my thoughts about how important it is to continue highlighting the Black experience in America through the medium of Art. Please be sure to stay updated about what the Nine Lives Project is doing on their Facebook page.

Article and Photos by Jamal Lawson

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