Peak Time

Lonnie Holley

180 minsFirst aired 21 Jan 2019
Mark "Frosty" McNeill

The improvisational multimedia artist discusses his I Snuck off the Slave Ship documentary, ahead of its Sundance premiere.

Born in the Jim Crow-era in the American South, Lonnie Holley faced a bevy of hardships – abusive foster homes, poverty, abject racism – but found a source of strength through improvisational arts. Through painting, poetry, sculpture, drawing, performance and sound (as well as advanced technologies of his own construction), Holley portrays the black American experience and liberates himself and those around him from the shackles of traumatic history. Late last year he released his first album in five years, MITH, a collection of stream-of-consciousness tracks that touch on the Black Lives Matter movement, Standing Rock and contemporary American politics. A particularly poignant track from the album, “I Snuck off the Slave Ship,” which was written in reaction to 2016’s presidential election, was the source of inspiration for Holley’s directorial debut of the same name. On today’s show, ahead of the film’s Sundance premiere, we’ll listen to an in-depth conversation between Holley, his longtime collaborator Matt Arnett and Peak Time correspondent Mark “Frosty” McNeill; the trio tackle everything from the beauty of winging it to global warming and racial disparities.


Engineered by Ryan Woodhall
Produced by Sara Casella

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