This Week on American Black Journal:

Detroit piano prodigy BLKBOK bridges classical and contemporary to create his unique sound

Born and raised in Detroit, Charles Wilson III, known professionally as BLKBOK, has carved a unique path in the music world. Identified as a piano prodigy by the age of eight, Wilson’s early accolades in statewide competitions showcased his talent. His professional name, BLKBOK, reflects a homage to renowned composer Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as his deep roots in pop and hip-hop culture. 

BLKBOK’s debut album, “Black Book,” was a breakout success, earning recognition from The New York Times as one of the “5 Classical Albums to Listen to Right Now.” This album established his innovative voice in the music industry, blending classical piano with contemporary influences. Collaborative works, such as “Angels Watching Over Me” with Lawrence Brownlee, further highlight his versatility and creative breadth. 

In a notable career milestone, BLKBOK’s original track “Stars (Ad Astra)” was the first piano duet performed from space, underscoring his commitment to pushing musical boundaries. His sophomore album, “9,” pays tribute to the Little Rock 9, exploring themes of disparity, equity, and Black excellence. 

For Black Music Month, BLKBOK talks with “American Black Journal” guest host Trudy Gallant-Stokes about how he blends classical and contemporary music, the significance of his name, his parents’ influence, and Detroit’s impact on his career. 

4th Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival in Detroit highlights Black stories and storytellers

The 4th annual Obsidian Theatre Festival returns to Detroit from June 27-30, bringing a diverse array of original plays, a musical, and a cabaret to various downtown locations. Founded in 2020, the festival was created to uplift Black stories and storytellers, providing a powerful platform for artists to share their experiences and perspectives. 

This year’s event, produced by GhostLight Creative Productions in collaboration with Nicely Theatre Group, features four plays, a new musical, and a special cabaret fundraiser. Since its inception, the Obsidian Theatre Festival has produced over 100 pieces of content, all reflecting the beautiful diversity of humanity. The festival provides opportunities for audience participation and will be available to stream online.

 “American Black Journal” guest host Trudy Gallant-Stokes talks with John Sloan III, CEO & Artistic Director of GhostLight Creative Productions, about this year’s festival and the additional activities taking place this month. Plus, Sloan discusses the festival’s origins and its mission to uplift Black stories and storytellers. 

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.