U.S. band Black Alley will tour Armenia June 1-6, 2023 as part of the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad (AMA) program. The AMA touring program represents a diverse new generation of U.S. musical ambassadors who reach beyond concert halls to interact with musicians and citizens around the global. Bands are selected for tours through a competitive audition process.
Founded in Washington DC, Black Alley is known for pushing the art of music to its rhythmic limits. Their genre-bending sound combines hip hop, rock and go-go, and is deeply rooted in African-American musical culture. Black Alley has shared the stage with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Common, Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation, Wale, and Living Colour, among many others, and has also performed at the White House. “A group with roots in Washington’s go-go scene and enough vitality to instantly become the life of the party,” writes the Washington Post.
Band to Give Public Concerts in Yerevan and Gyumri
The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan is partnering with Ordinary Wonder Society (OWS) NGO and Armenian Vibes to produce Black Alley’s Armenia tour, which will include public concerts, collaborations with local musicians, workshops, masterclasses, jam sessions, and media interviews. Black Alley’s first public concert takes place in Yerevan on Saturday, June 3, 8pm, at the Yerevan Wine Days Festival. The second public concert will take place in Gyumri on Monday, June 5, 7pm at The Garage. Tickets are not required.
“Creative collaboration, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our cultural diplomacy initiatives. The U.S. Embassy is proud to showcase Black Alley’s unique sound for Armenian audiences,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Kristina Kvien. “We hope the band’s visit will strengthen U.S-Armenian musical ties, and inspire the next generation of artists.”
“We’re delighted to partner on the Armenia tour of Black Alley—which will be a rare opportunity to showcase African-American music traditions for Armenian audiences,” said Linn Paravyan, OWS Cultural Foundation Director. “In particular, the powerful vocals of the band’s female frontwoman will be a source of inspiration for the next generation of women artists.”
Creative Collaborations and Masterclasses
Black Alley’s tour will include songwriting masterclasses and workshops with aspiring Armenian musicians and songwriters, with a focus on the creative process and women’s empowerment, and grounded in the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. These engagements will be held in partnership with Yerevan State Conservatory, TUMO Center for Creative Technologies in Yerevan, and Emili Aregak development center for youth with disabilities in Gyumri.
The band will also collaborate with Armenian musicians to create a new Armenian language remix of Black Alley’s song “Smile”, to be produced by Narek Barseghyan, noted artist, producer, leader of The Bambir rock band, and founder of Armenian Vibes. Collaborating artists on the remix will include: Artyom Manukyan, international renowned cellist and hip hop artist and Miqayel Voskanyan, leader of MVF Band who recently returned from a U.S. tour with the Department of State’s CenterStage program.
A music video for the Armenian remix of “Smile” will be released in the coming weeks.