<This is a request for financial support through kickstarter.>
On Sunday, May 30, 1993, I received a call from veteran WPFW jazz and blues programmer Rick Bolling informing me that a friend in Birmingham had just heard that Sun Ra had died in a local hospital. Sun Ra saw Death as a universal human problem, the ultimate common foe against which earth’s people should rise up united. Certainly, Sun Ra was hip to the way Death, like yeast, has been folded into the doughy mass of this purportedly advanced civilization.
Sun Ra’s vibrantly unconventional life combined varying degrees of artist, oracle, minstrel, and sage. He evaded any claim to leadership and instead offered himself as something of a catalyst for a species-wide entry into what he called an alter destiny of renewed creativity and happiness. While he lived and worked among us, Sun Ra’s claims of a globally transformational mission were easily compartmentalized as just the verbal side of a particularly hyperbolic performance shtick.
Twenty years after leaving the planet, Sun Ra’s legacy as an extraordinary musician, recording artist, and bandleader continues to grow. Now, just one year before the centenary of his birth, I am seeking your help in publishing a book that will add to our appreciation of the musician who according to poet Amiri Baraka was speaking “of needing another world, needing another mind, needing another human being, and another language.”
The Execution of Sun Ra is my attempt to take a second, closer, and perhaps more invested look at the ideas that Sun Ra offered in the midst of his music. In both the archaic military sense and the more contemporary hacker sense, I’m quite convinced that Sun Ra, that whimsical old, folksy musician with the funny clothes and the cosmic rap, was in fact a Trojan horse. Far more than an act of interpretative analysis, my text is a set of fluidly salient opportunities to refocus our freshened attention on Sun Ra and his Myth. It is a set of mining tools and the vaguest trace of a map.
Over the course of the next several months, I think it will become clear that Sun Ra was born in the last century to meet the demands of this one. There is a fertile urgency to his talk of what lies beyond our current phase of historical development and I believe that we will, in part through the pages of The Execution, soon have a much better idea of just how much he left us to work with.
Thomas T. Stanley