In February 2017, award-winning composer, writer, vocalist and hip-hop performance artist, Napoleon Maddox (IsWhat?!), was commissioned by Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center to create a new work as part of their Black Box series. He worked in collaboration with French producer/DJ Sorg, as well as MYCincinnati, Chase Public, and Elementz to create a stunning musical and visual performance entitled Twice the First Time.
Twice the First Time retells the true story of Maddox's great-grand aunts, conjoined twins Millie-Christine McKoy, who were born into slavery in the town of Whiteville, NC in the year 1851. Leased by their owner to an ambitious businessman, Millie-Christine were kidnapped twice as children, taken to England and exhibited in circuses and sideshows.
In the show, the music, performance and visuals by French video designer Ease, combine to create "an organic and provocative interaction between hip hop and free jazz." Maddox adopts several on-stage personas, including that of the girls' father - through which he compels the audience to face the truths of racism, slavery and the divides that still exist in our culture today.
Napoleon and Sorg have since performed the show several times in Europe including the Banlieues Bleues Music Festival, where a documentary film was made of the project.
On Friday, May 17, Twice the First Time returns to Cincinnati at the Woodward Theatre and features several great local musicians such as Eddy Kwon, Brent Olds, D'Anna Kennedy, Dan Barger and DJ Apryl Reign.
Supplemental music for this episode comes from the album Checkin Us by Sorg & Napoleon Maddox: