esperanza spalding’s latest project Songwrights Apothecary Lab has been widely celebrated and is now viewable in its entirety as a visual album on her songwrightsapothecarylab.com website and on YouTube here. It has recently been met with praise from the New Yorker and Pitchfork, a Pitchfork Over/Under interview and a discussion with the podcast Switched On Pop, which remarked that “spalding’s view of music these days opened our eyes wide to the true healing power of individual songs and just how accessible music is when we need it.”
This collection of 12 songs, or “Formwelas,” were formed in a traveling creative space where spalding was joined by researchers, practitioners - including music therapists and neuroscientists - and musicians to make music designed to have a specific effect on the listener. The intended effects range from de-stressing and de-escalation, to finding the right words to say among loved ones and a reminder to respect and give time to our elders. They were formed in spalding’s lab in different musical configurations and locations, first Wasco County, OR, then Portland, OR and then New York City, over the course of two weeks in June as part of a residency that was open to the public.
The corresponding music videos were filmed in those same locations and several of the videos capture the laboratories in session as spalding and her collaborators were creating and recording.
Songwrights Apothecary Lab, which spalding first unveiled in April, has also been featured in the NY Times, Vogue, NPR Music and NPR All Things Considered. spalding also contributed a performance to the Time 100 Talks in celebration of the 2021 edition of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People List that was revealed last month.
In addition to the new album, preview presentations of Iphigenia, a new opera created in collaboration with Wayne Shorter, spalding, and set design by Frank Gehry, are set for this weekend - November 5 and 6 at Mass Moca. The World Premiere of Iphigenia will then take place on November 12 and 13 at ArtsEmerson in Boston.