Helga Davis served as a principle actor in the 25th-anniversary international revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's seminal opera Einstein on the Beach. Her appearance in You Us We All by Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond) and Andrew Ondrejcak marked her fifth at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.
Among the many works written for her are Faust's Box, written and directed by acclaimed Italian contemporary music composer Andrea Liberovici; Oceanic Verses by Paola Prestini, with libretto by Donna DiNovelli and video by Ali Houssani; Elsewhere by Missy Mazzoplli and Maya Beiser; and The Blue Planet, a multi-media theater piece written by Peter Greenaway and directed by Saskia Boddeke. She was also the co-star of The Temptation of St. Anthony directed by Robert Wilson, with libretto and score by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Recently, Davis performed Yet Unheard by Courtney Bryan at Cooper Union, a work based on the poem by Sharan Strange and performed on the first anniversary of Bland's death. Her work First Responder was conceived and performed at MassMoCA this fall after an invitation to respond to Nick Cave's Until.
In 2008, Helga joined New York Public Radio to host overnight music and won an ASCAP Multimedia Award for her work on WNYC’s 24:33 – an all-day festival of composer John Cage’s recorded music, interviews and live performances. In 2009, she transitioned to Q2 Music, and has been the channel’s primary host for live concerts and interviews in The Greene Space at WQXR. In addition, she has hosted live shows and conducted conversations with Pulitzer Prize-winning composers including John Luther Adams, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, as well as with Cornel West, Kronos Quartet, and the 2015-2016 artists-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and served as a repeat commentator for WNYC’s Battle of the Boroughs.
Davis begins 2017 with long-time collaborator Daniel Alexander Jones on a new piece for his alter ego, Jomama Jones at the Black Light Festival in Minneapolis, as well as perform in a new work, Texts and Beheadings, with Yale School of Drama professor Karin Coonrod. She is also working on her second production with Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon, The Parable of the Sower, based on the novel by Octavia E. Butler.
Among her many accolades, David Keenan, of Wire Magazine, describes Ms. Davis as “a powerful vocalist with an almost operatic range and all the bruised sensuality of Jeanne Lee," while Robert Wilson writes "Helga Davis is a beautiful, natural performer with an inner power and strength that is truly unique. She combines voice and movement in a united whole that is spellbinding. Her genius in her stillness and quietness evoke a very deep emotion. She is radiant in every way."
Helga Davis appears in the following:
Thursday, September 28, 2017
The composers join Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes and vocalist Helga Davis for a conversation about the contributions of black artists to contemporary opera.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon's "Brooklyn Bound" offers a honest and poetic musical look at gentrification in Crown Heights. Watch the second of our "Silent Voices" documentaries.
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus recently created space for conversation about social justice through commissioning ten new works. We dive into one: Kamala Sankaram's "Keeping the Look Loose."
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Watch a performance by Vijay Iyer and friends from The Greene Space at WQXR as the genre-bending pianist-composer shared the stage with a diverse array of musical collaborators.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Watch the release party for Brooklyn Youth Chorus' 'Black Mountain Songs,' featuring Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
In January, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus offered an early listen to their "Silent Voices" project, which gives voice to those who have been silenced by social and political circumstances.
Monday, March 06, 2017
Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 pm, watch a live video-stream of the trailblazing Kronos Quartet and Face the Music, Kaufman Music Center's acclaimed youth ensemble, live from The Greene Space.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Hilton Als is an intellectual omnivore who roots his art and criticism in reality and truth. Als talks with Helga Davis about being comfortable owning your anger and art-making.
Monday, January 09, 2017
In Sarah Jones's one-woman shows, she seamlessly slips into characters of different classes, races and genders. Jones and Davis talk self-love in a culture that teaches self-alienation.
Monday, January 02, 2017
The young Juilliard-trained soprano Julia Bullock is making waves for her stunning performances and bold choice of roles. She talks with Davis about finding her place in today's culture.
Monday, December 19, 2016
For conductor Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, an attentive and hungry audience is one of the essential parts of creating a transcendent musical experience. He talks with host Helga Davis.
Monday, December 12, 2016
Alan Gilbert is in his final season as music director of the New York Philharmonic. He talks with Helga Davis about serving a community and the moments in performance he lives for.
Monday, December 05, 2016
The pop star singer-songwriter Solange talks with Helga Davis about finding autonomy in the music business and about being black and beautiful in contemporary America.
Monday, November 28, 2016
Violin soloist Jennifer Koh has never cancelled a gig. Even when she had swine flu. Host Helga Davis speaks with Koh about determination and empathy in this episode of the Helga podcast.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize, jazz composer Henry Threadgill talks with Helga about giving license to your imagination and pushing yourself to go beyond excellence to greatness.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Singer, composer and My Brightest Diamond's frontwoman Shara Nova talks to Helga about choosing a new city, leaning into vulnerability, and how her new names translates to "new song."
Monday, November 14, 2016
Q2 Music's new podcast, Helga, features probing conversations with artists who have a unique voice and a stake in the matter of social change. The first guest is director Peter Sellars.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Get an advance listen today to Q2 Music's newest podcast, Helga, a show featuring conversations with diverse, uncompromising and socially conscious artists across the creative spectrum.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Watch a live video-stream of the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus celebrating the launch of its 25th anniversary season with music by Jeff Beal, Nico Muhly and Caroline Shaw.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Q2 Music commemorates the passing of Einojuhani Rautavaara, with a 12-hour marathon stream of music by the great Finnish composer. Today at 4 pm and Saturday at 10 am.