Image description: The background photo is taken by Joel Filipe. It has swirls of gold, orange, yellow, white that looks like swirled paint, or a galaxy. It is overlaid with a dark blue hue, with the title of the event, A liturgy of art and social healing, and circular headshots of the evening's co-creators are displayed with their names beneath.
A Liturgy of Art and Social Healing
A virtual gathering.
Please join us for the March installment of Vanderbilt Divinity's Relevant Religion series: A Liturgy of Art and Social Healing, hosted by Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture.
We will envision the revolution outside of the ways we’ve been conscripted as we move away from theologies that accelerate supremacy culture. This liturgical service will include a spoken word performance by Joel Markus Antson, a sermon on politicizing both spirituality and revolution by Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, guided embodiment experiences with Erin Law, and music sung by Sarah Potenza. The liturgy will be followed by a panel with the four co-creators of the liturgy.
Date: March 16, 2021, Time: 6-7:30PM Central Time
About the co-creators
JMA (him/his) is an encouraging spoken word artist and an aspiring therapist from Estonia. He is an MTS candidate at Vanderbilt Divinity School and studying Imago Relationship Therapy. In his music, JMA combines his love for therapy and social justice to produce soundtracks of hope, healing, and transformation. As he's from Estonia, a country that regained its independence from the USSR through the Singing Revolution, he believes in the liberating power of the song and the people uniting in singing for a common cause.
Erin Law (they/she) has a background in dance, somatics, bodywork and cultural studies. Their call and vocation is to facilitate educational spaces rooted in creative embodied practice that supports people and communities who are ready and willing to unhinge from supremacy culture and lean into collective liberation. She is currently Embodiment & Somatics Curator at Activist Theology Project. Erin facilitates and engages in practices, analysis, advocacy, and activism to contribute to the transformation and alchemy of systemic oppression/supremacy culture, toward the blossoming of a more resilient and whole humanity. Erin is indebted to her family, and all of her teachers, students, and colleagues who have challenged and inspired her. You can learn more about Erin via their website: www.erinlawembodiment.com or Embodiment & Somatics Curator with Activist Theology Project.
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD (they/them) has been described in a myriad of ways: a scholar-activist, scholar-leader, thought-leader, teacher, public theologian, ethicist, poet of moral reason, and word artist. Among these ways of describing Dr. Robyn, they are also a visionary thinker who has spent two decades working in the borderlands of church, academy, & movements seeking to not only disrupt but dismantle supremacy culture and help steward the logic of liberation as a Transqueer Latinx. They enflesh a deep hope of collaborating in these borderland spaces where their work seeks to contribute to the ongoing work of collective liberation. Dr. Robyn is the Founder of the Activist Theology Project, a Nashville based collaborative project that seeks to work with the dominant culture and produces curriculum at the intersection of scholarship and activism. Dr. Robyn was named 1 of 10 Faith Leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress in 2018. Dr. Robyn has been featured in fashion magazines and appeared on many different podcasts. As a scholar-activist, Dr. Robyn is committed to translating theory to action, so that our work in the borderlands reflect the deep spiritual work of transforming self to transforming the world. As the Founder of the Activist Theology Project, Dr. Robyn is committed to the work of social healing through public theology initiatives, and writes & creates both academic & other valuable resources, including digital resources. Dr. Robyn is a non-binary Transqueer Latinx and adult on the Autism spectrum who calls Nashville, TN home. They are the author of Activist Theology, 2019, published by Fortress Press and the forthcoming book “Body Becoming.” Learn more about Dr. Robyn, here. Connect with the Activist Theology Project on their website, Instagram, and Twitter.
"I work for me," Sarah Potenza (she/her) declares at the beginning of Road to Rome, kicking off her second solo album — a record of self-empowered R&B, swaggering soul, and contemporary blues — with her own declaration of independence.
Filled with messages of self-worth, determination, and drive, Road to Rome shines new light on a songwriter whose career already includes multiple albums as front-woman of Sarah and the Tall Boys, a game-changing appearance on The Voice, and an acclaimed solo debut titled Monster. Released one year after she sang in front of 12 million people during The Voice's eighth season, 2016's Monster prompted Rolling Stone to gush, "Potenza is to the blues what Adele is to pop: a colossal-voiced singer who merges her old-school influences with a modernistic sound." Three years later, that sound deepens and intensifies with Road to Rome, an album that shows the full scope of Potenza's aims and ambitions.
And just who is Sarah Potenza? She's a songwriter. A bold, brassy singer. A businesswoman. A proud, loud-mouthed Italian-American from Providence, Rhode Island, with roots in Nashville and an audience that stretches across the Atlantic. Road to Rome spells it all out. Co-written by Potenza, produced by Jordan Brooke Hamlin (Indigo Girls, Lucy Wainwright Roche), and recorded with a female-heavy cast of collaborators, the album isn't just her own story. It's the story of all artists — particularly women, who remain the minority within the male-dominated music industry — who've learned to trust their instincts, refusing to let mainstream trends dilute their own artistic statements.
For Potenza, such lessons were learned during the writing sessions for Road to Rome, which took place aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean, as well as at her home in East Nashville. It was during the cruise that she first began writing songs with Justin Wiseman, a piano player from Austin, TX. For years, she and her husband, Ian Crossman, had worked together as a duo, splitting their musical duties more or less equally, writing songs with guitar in hand, and merging their very different influences. This was something different, though — something about the piano that allowed Potenza the chance to rediscover her own voice, making an album whose unique approach to soul music was entirely her own. Although Crossman and Wiseman’s contributions as co-writers can be heard throughout Road to Rome's tracks, the album represents a strong shift in dynamic, with Potenza leading the charge.
When it came time to record Road to Rome at MOXE, Jordan Brooke Hamlin's Nashville-area studio, Potenza looked to a wide range of musicians for influence. She turned to Whitney Houston. To Lauryn Hill. To Pops Staples, the Dirty Projectors, RL Burnside, Bette Midler, and more. Those artists gave her inspiration not only on a musical level, but on an emotional and thematic level, too. They were artists who spoke with conviction, chasing their own muses into unique, personalized territory. Potenza did the same, turning Road to Rome into an album filled with everything from the torch song balladry of "Earthquake" (a love letter to Crossman, thanking him for years of support ) to the funky fire of "Dickerson and Queen" (where Potenza howls, swoons, and croons over bass grooves and swirling organ, reminding everyone that, "I don't give a fuck about nothing but the music"). She even makes room for a piano-propelled cover of "Worthy," originally written by Grammy-nominated icon Mary Gauthier, who personally sent the song to Potenza.
Released on International Women's Day 2019, Road to Rome is the sound of a songwriter taking the wheel and driving toward her own destination. This is Sarah Potenza's strongest album to date: a battlecry from a soul singer and blues belter, shot through with pop melodies, rock & roll attitude.