Video Premiere: Miyamoto is Black Enough Performs “Burn / Build”

Today’s video premiere, “Burn / Build,” is the title track from Miyamoto is Black Enough’s recently released debut album. Filmed in quarantine on Juneteenth, the video features band members Andy Akiho (composer, steel pan), Roger Bonair-Agard (lyrics, vocals), Sean Dixon (drums, bass, and synths), and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello).

Developed through National Sawdust Projects, the album brings together a unique instrumentation to explore themes of gentrification, displacement, changing landscapes, colonialism, and memory, unified by the assertion that Black Lives Matter and Indigenous Lives Matter.

Here’s what Roger had to say about “Burn / Build”:

Black songs and poems and rhymes are meant sometimes to conjure, to ninja, to seem to appear one place and crop up elsewhere. “Burn / Build,” a poem/song in and about grief, was written first as a poem six years ago, and now, its moment has come. It recognized (in 2014) that a cleansing was necessary. Juneteenth, arguably America’s most important black holiday recognizes both our freedom, and what extraordinary measures were employed to keep that freedom from us–what extraordinary measures we have had to employ to keep it for ourselves. To find a place where we can start anew, where we can build, we must burn. Juneteenth is the right time. Miyamoto is Black Enough is the right time. Burn. Build.

Burn / Build is out now on National Sawdust Tracks. You can purchase the album on Bandcamp.

About Miyamoto is Black Enough

Miyamoto is Black Enough is a collaborative exploration of meaning and conversation, named after Ariana Miyamoto, a Japanese national who grew up as a self-described mixed race “hafu,” the child of an African American father and Japanese mother. After winning Miss Universe Japan 2015, many Japanese expressed concern at her lack of “pure” parentage—that she was not Japanese enough.

However, in Miyamoto is Black Enough, a contemporary band that boasts two “hafu” of their own— plus a plus a Trinidadian poet and an Irish/Finnish/Swedish hip-hop influenced drummer, the band definitely believes that Miyamoto is most certainly Black enough.

This work celebrating Miyamoto’s legacy is a blend of hard driving rhythms and biting social commentary that utilizes steelpan, cello, drums, and poetry/vocals. Drawing from a melange of musical styles, Miyamoto is Black Enough forms a brash symphony that nods the head, moves the feet, and asks the listener/viewer to challenge and disturb her own comfort. The resulting work is a bold narrative about people, justice, struggle, joy, and celebration.