Faculty lecture at Pellissippi State explores 1970s funk as music of revolution

What Beyonce brought to Coachella in April, Claude Hardy is bringing to Pellissippi State Community College next week.

Hardy, an associate professor of theatre, will present “Black Power: Funk and Heavy Music from the 1970s” at 11:50 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The faculty lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State.

“I really like this genre of music, and not a lot of people know about it,” Hardy said Monday, as he played vinyl records in the Goins Building Rotunda to drum up interest in the upcoming lecture. “Selfishly, this is a way to get more people to listen to it because this is music people aren’t necessarily going to seek out on their own.”

Hardy discovered the Afrobeat genre on the now-defunct website voodoofunk.com, which was created by a German deejay who traveled throughout Western Africa collecting Afrobeat records.

Since then there has been a resurgence in the music, helped by artists such as Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who produced FELA! on Broadway in 2009, and Beyonce, who performed one of Fela’s songs during her Coachella set this year.

“Fela was a big influence in his country, having stood up to the government and been arrested a bunch of times,” Hardy explained of the Nigerian musician. “He released 25 or 30 albums in the ’70s. He’d get worked up and write a politically charged album.”

For example, Fela’s song “Zombie,” which Beyonce covered at Coachella, was about the Nigerian Army coming and taking over his compound, Hardy said.

Hardy’s lecture will include history on the bands and songs that he is sharing – “Black Power” by The Peace and “Acid Rock” by The Funkees are two of the tunes on his list – and then the opportunity for the audience to listen to the songs in their entirety.

“We will be playing actual records,” Hardy noted. “One of the great things is to just listen; don’t worry about the outside world right now.”

Hardy’s hope is that those who attend the lecture will learn something new.

“I hope they keep their ears open and not settle for what they know, not just the Led Zeppelins and the Pink Floyds, which I love,” he said.

For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, as well as other upcoming faculty lectures, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts. To request accommodations for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.