songwrights apothecary lab

Songwrights Apothecary Lab (a.k.a. S.A.L.) seeks to respectfully dip into the healing seas of music/musicianship/song, and distill a few grains of piquancy which carry the life-renewing flavor of the unfathomable ocean of human resiliency, then work those grains into new musical formwelas, to enhance the healing flavors and intentions innate in all works of devoted creatorship.

In this ongoing lab, we experiment with sprinkling the many distillations of S.A.L. into our song wrighting, and invite you to taste/hear these enhanced essences and flavors.

(S.A.L. is also a lab esperanza co-curates at various institutions of learning)

Half songwrighting workshop, and half guided-research practice, the Songwrights’ Apothecary Lab (S.A.L.), seeks to develop a structure for the collaborative development of new compositions designed to offer enhanced salutary benefit to listeners.

The course is rooted in a transdisciplinary station, orienting itself towards archives and literature that study healing strategies drawn from a diverse range of music-based creative and therapeutic practices.
All Formwelas (songs) from the S.A.L. are created through our research, divination, intuition, musicianship, taste, inspiration, and collaborative effort to design songs that enhance a specific salutary affect. 

The formwelas offered here are not presented as potential “solutions”.  Rather, they are responses to the ongoing question guiding the beings collaborating within the Songwrights Apothecary Lab.

those beings being:

  • the 2020’ and 2021’ cohorts of student songwrights, student researchers (including esperanza), and the practitioners comprising our guiding council.

  • Dr. Shorter

  • ancestors, and artisans of the lineages informing and doing the real work within this work.

“If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song and he will be cured”

    – John Coltrane

“us too.”

    – esperanza spalding and the S.A.L.

esperanza spalding

“i wish to channel the spaciousness, harmony and renewing power of the fecund land, channel it to the middle of the man-made fires

learn how to send it through the center of the ache, constriction, resistance, pain, stress, woe, worry…

I want to flow a music of soothing, energizing, and remembrance of life-sustaining systems through which we are each woven…

i want to carry a flow of that remembering into the center of the city…and the city of self.”

Born in 1984 in Portland, Oregon, esperanza spalding (a.k.a. irma nejando) is an eaabibacliitoti* artist, trained and initiated in the North American (masculine) jazz lineage and tradition. Her work interweaves through various combinations of instrumental music, improvisation, singing, composition, poetry, dance, therapeutic research, storytelling, teaching, regenerative agriculture, urban land & artist-sanctuary custodianship, and growing in love as a daughter, sister, cousin, niece, auntie, great-auntie, friend, while collaboratively decolonizing within and through her hometown community. She co-founded and serves as lead curator for Prismid Inc., a non-profit that creates and stewards artist residency, performance, and workshop space in Portland, Oregon.

esperanza continues to collaborate and perform in new productions of “…(Iphigenia)”, an opera written by Wayne Shorter, for whom she wrote the libretto and co-produced its 2021/2022 premieres // is currently developing a mockumentary in collaboration with brontë velez and San Francisco Symphony // researching and developing liberation rituals in jazz and black dance // and through the Songwrights Apothecary Lab continuing a lifelong collaboration with practitioners in various fields relating to sound, healing, and cognition to develop music with enhanced therapeutic potential.

With her dance company Off Brand gOdds (co-founded with Antonio Brown) and the Songwrights Apothecary Lab she leads multi-week performance, teaching, workshop, and therapeutic-arts research residencies in collaboration with colleges and arts venues across the Americas, and throughout the world.

Her forthcoming installation “I love being Black/Quit saying I’m Black” opens in a near future, commissioned and produced by institutions who do the work themselves of learning about, reaching out to, and offering comprehensive support to eaabibacliitoti (and other ancestored) artists rather than demanding we take on the burden of proving our competency and worthiness to receive the resources required to deliver our medicine - uncontorted & well-rested - to our communities/the world.

*European-African ancestored being influenced by American cultures living in Indigenous Lands of Turtle Island

songwrights apothecary lab
purchase the album  ︎︎︎

thank you

thank you. thank you. thank you, to the beings whose expertise, honesty, generosity, open-ness, creativity, diligence, thoroughness, love and musicianship, patience and peership made/make this offering possible:

To the 2020’ Songwrights Apothecary Lab inaugural cohort of student songwrights, student researchers, and the practitioners comprising our guiding council -your care, integrity, brilliance and exploratory nature inspire me/us to continually expand our hearts and imaginations //

Dr. Wayne Shorter // the inaugural cohort of the Prismid Sanctuary artists-retreat // Mike and Laila // Ganavya, Grant, Nivi, Marisol, Britton, Leo, Mela, Corey, Aaron, Matthew, Eben, Fern, Alex, Oscar, T.L., Mike, Intisar, Abibat // extra special thank you to Héloïse! // special thank you to Adriana! // Anna, Concord team, Shorefire team // LMCC and River to River Festival // Lili and Nanette! // The Clemente // family team  // elders, friction-causers, mentors, ancestors, and artisans of all lineages informing and doing the real work within this work.
Produced by
esperanza spalding 

Photography by
LaMont Hamilton, Holly AndresJati Lindsay, Samuel Prather

Art Direction & Graphic Design by
Lawrence Azerrad, LADdesign Inc.

Web Design & Development by
Christian Pugsley