ASCAP offers virtual performances through its Music Cafe during the Sundance Film Festival
Artists include John Doe, Brandy Clark and Shungudzo
For the past 24 years, ASCAP, the world’s largest music copyright protector, has partnered with Sundance Institute to bring the ASCAP Music Cafe to the Sundance Film Festival.
And Loretta Munoz, ASCAP’s assistant vice president of membership, is thrilled the showcase will return despite the coronavirus pandemic — it will be held as a virtual event alongside the festival for the second straight year.
“We’re just very happy and excited to connect with music and film lovers and turn them on to our amazing ASCAP members’ music,” Munoz said. “The power of music is so strong, and to be able to bring the Music Cafe in the current form that it is now, which is necessary, is great.”
This year’s lineup includes six-time Grammy nominee Brandy Clark; singer-songwriter and co-founder of L.A. punk band X, John Doe; R&B singer-songwriter Jordan Hawkins; singer-songwriter and actress Hayley Sales; Zimbabwean-American singer-songwriter and record producer Shungudzo; and Evan + Zane, a duo featuring award-winning actor and singer Evan Rachel Wood and Grammy-nominated guitarist/singer-songwriter Zane Carney.
“We are pleased to announce that John Doe is returning this year,” Munoz said. “He performed in person at the Music Cafe a while ago, and I’m an avid X fan, and of John with his other bands and incarnations. He is brilliant as John the author and John the songwriter and performer.”
Munoz is also looking forward to presenting Clark.
“The stories she tells with her voice and collaborations just grabs your heart and holds it tenderly,” she said.
The Music Cafe will also present newer artists such as Hawkins and Shungudzo, according to Munoz.
“Jordan is a beautiful up-and-coming R&B songwriter, and Shungudzo is a singer-songwriter and record producer,” she said. “She already has a long line of success, so to have her debut performance at the Music Cafe is super exciting.”
Zane Carney is known for his work in the band Carney, which features his brother Reeve and sister Paris, Munoz said.
“I’ve known Zane for quite a while, and he is a brilliant musician and guitarist,” she said. “So to have him teaming up with actor and activist Evan Rachel Wood is quite magical. I’m looking forward to seeing them perform together.”
Munoz knows the power of music.
“It unleashes old memories and creates new memories, and according to an overused quote, music becomes the soundtrack of our lives,” she said. “So that we’re able to do this virtually is wonderful.”
In addition to performances, the virtual ASCAP Music Cafe will present a program called ASCAP Screen Time, its film and TV team’s interview series that addresses the craft and business of writing music for soundtracks and scores, Munoz said.
This year’s participants will include “Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power” composer Sharon Farber and the film’s director Nina Menkes; “Neptune Frost” co-director/composer/screenwriter Saul Williams and co-director Anisia Uzeyman; “Call Jane” composer Isabella “The Machine” Summers and the film’s director Phyllis Nagy; “Cha Cha Real Smooth” composers Este Haim, of the band Haim; and Christopher Stracey.
Writing music for film and collaborations with filmmakers has been something ASCAP has been able to further explore, given the virtual platform, Munoz said.
“Over the years we have tried to schedule composers to perform at the Music Cafe, and that lends itself to a certain type of performances that weren’t the best way to present these composers,” she said. “So, the Screen Time will allow time for people to sit down with these composers who will share their experiences. To be able to put these composers and filmmakers in a platform in front of festival goers is magical and informative, because there is a lot of insight these artists can show about how music moves a film along.”
Moving the in-person Music Cafe to a virtual format first happened last year, and since then, ASCAP has utilized the platform to host other music presentations, Munoz said.
“We have been hosting these events since the onset of the pandemic, and the ASCAP team is at a high level of being able to navigate the virtual platform in a pretty seamless process,” she said.
Munoz also credits the Sundance Film Festival team for making sure last year’s online Music Cafe went on without a hitch.
“If there was anything that needed to be tweaked on the Sundance side, they were right on it, so the combination of Sundance with ASCAP in our second year is something we look forward to,” she said. “Pivoting from a semi-in-person event to a fully virtual event in a handful of days is such a major task. So we will be on the front lines with them on Thursday when they open up the festival.”
Still, Munoz can’t wait until ASCAP can create an in-person, “boots-on-the-ground” Music Cafe in the future.
“I miss working with the sound crews and our colleagues at Sundance,” she said. “I miss the magic of the shared greenroom where many artist collaborations emerge. So we will do everything we can do to enhance our digital experience, and we hope people will dig it.”
• The Sundance ASCAP Music Café will open with performances Jan. 21 and 22, and offer ASCAP Screen Time sessions Jan. 23 and 24.
• The Sundance ASCAP Music Café virtual venue is accessible in the Festival Village portal by creating a free account at festival.sundance.org/create-account.
• For more information about individual ASCAP composers featured in this year’s Sundance Film Festival, visit.ascap.com/sundancecomposers2022.
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