Entering a relay of change: In Black Artistic Expressions, Marcus Mosely gives us a reason for joy

Black Artistic Expressions in BC, a community-university collaboration, is a four-part virtual series put together by UBC’s IBPOC Connections initiative and the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education. Assembled to celebrate Black lives, culture and activism, the series kicked off on September 16 with a performance from Marcus Mosely, a renowned gospel artist and BC Entertainment hall of famer.

Songs of resilience, connection and politics

After a welcome by Dr. Maryam Nabavi from the Equity & Inclusion Office, the event commenced with a minute of silence for lives lost due to colonialism as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mosely wasted no time, jumping right into the first song — a song he described was about resilience and connection.

He proceeded to perform five more songs, most of which he wrote, all full of heartening messages. His fourth song, titled “No More,” was a response to Tracy Chapman’s “Behind the Wall,” a song dealing with themes of domestic abuse.

Mosely’s song, which centres on taking action, can also be used to describe the current political climate of the United States. It features lyrics such as “Last night I heard screaming, loud voices behind the wall” and “The police, they always come late … if they come at all.”

His final song, “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down,” left a lingering feeling of hope for the audience before a question and answer period.

‘Handing off the baton’

The first question was about how he got started as an artist and how he developed, to which Mosely spoke of his mother. He said that despite her working long, hard hours, “she always had a song on her lips.” He followed that statement by saying that his mother used music to help her stay connected and that he followed her example.

The next question centred around music’s ability to connect people and cultures. Mosely replied, smiling, before stating “there is something pure about music” that makes it easier to transcend past all the thoughts going on in people’s heads.

Next, Mosley responded to a question about his work and how it interacted with activism and education. Mosely holds gospel workshops teaching about the history of gospel music from slavery to today.

The final question was about whether he had any works in progress or any words of encouragement for young Black artists. Mosely disclosed that he was working as a voice actor in a children’s cartoon called ABC’s with Kenny G set to air sometime next year. He closed out the Q&A session with words of encouragement, telling young Black artists that they need to “be true to you” and eventually “the opportunities will come.”

Mosely is an artist with a talent for uplifting which he puts into his music as well as his activism. His energetic performance both as a performer and speaker made him so engaging.

Yet, during his performance, he acknowledged his growing years.

Despite this, it is clear that Mosely has put in the work to become the artist he is today. In spite of the fact that there has been a lot of change in the industry, as he noted, there is still more to be done. Looking toward the future, Mosely said that he is “handing off the baton” in the relay of change, leaving the next generation of Black musicians to take up the mantle.