Helga Davis

Host

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."

Shows:

Helga Davis appears in the following:

Black Creativity: Toshi Reagon and Daniel Bernard Roumain

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.

Comments [1]

Holding Gentrification: Toshi Reagon on What it Means to Build and Unbuild Brooklyn

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.

Comments [1]

My Body as Me: Kamala Sankaram Shows Us How to Keep the Look Loose

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."

Comment

Watch: Vijay Iyer and Friends From The Greene Space

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.

Comment

Watch: Brooklyn Youth Chorus' 'Black Mountain Songs' Release Party

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Watch the release party for Brooklyn Youth Chorus' 'Black Mountain Songs,' featuring Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry.

Comment

Listen: Next Look at 'Silent Voices' With Brooklyn Youth Chorus and ICE

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.

Comment

Watch: Kronos Quartet and Face the Music

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.

Comment

Writer Hilton Als Talks Ruthlessness and Freeing Your Art-Making

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.

Comments [3]

Stage Actress Sarah Jones Talks Dignity and Finding Home in Everyone

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.

Comments [1]

Soprano Julia Bullock Talks Finding Your Voice and Place in the World

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.

Comment

Conductor Hernandez-Valdez Channels the Power of Choral Singing

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.

Comment

Conductor Alan Gilbert on Building Bridges and Letting Go Together

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.

Comments [1]

Singer-Songwriter Solange on Her Journey, Owning Her Body and Art

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.

Comments [2]

Violinist Jennifer Koh Discusses Determination and Empathy

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.

Comments [1]

Jazz Icon Henry Threadgill Lets His Imagination Run Wild

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.

Comments [4]

My Brightest Diamond's Shara Nova Leans into Vulnerability

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."

Comment

'Helga' Podcast Premieres with Opera Director Peter Sellars

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.

Comment

New Podcast 'Helga' Spotlights Diverse Voices

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.

Comment

Watch: Brooklyn Youth Chorus Celebrates 25th Anniversary Season

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.

Comments [2]

Encore Stream: Einojuhani Rautavaara Commemorative Marathon

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.

Comment