The relationship between poetry and music is intrinsic. While all music isn’t lyrical and poetry isn’t musical, it’s difficult to imagine one without the other—and impossible to imagine Harlem without either. The New York City neighborhood that was home to an iconic “Renaissance” still reverberates throughout our culture today as a mecca for Black ingenuity, pride, talent, and, in particular, the power of words.
One hundred years after that Renaissance began, Grammy Award-winning producer Jermaine Dupri and cognac brand Rémy Martin have teamed up with the Harlem Writers Guild to celebrate this nexus of Black excellence with “Voices of Harlem.”
Per a press release provided to The Root:
Rémy Martin expands its time-honored tradition of celebrating the sounds of local communities by announcing, “Voices of Harlem” a partnership with the Harlem Writers Guild that pays homage to the written word and voices of those from the Harlem Renaissance era. The series highlights the parallels between music and poetry as powerful means of expression and cultures of excellence.
“At Rémy Martin, celebrating cultures of excellence is deeply rooted in our heritage,” said Tina Reejsinghani, Vice President at Rémy Martin Americas. “With our longstanding relationship with the music world, we recognize that within music there is poetry. We are honored to team up with the Harlem Writers Guild to support this community and amplify local voices and artists.”
More from Rémy Martin:
“Through curated content, poems from iconic African American poets of the early 20th century are read by Harlem poets of today. Featured poems are [James Weldon Johnson’s] “Gift to Sing,” [Langston Hughes’] “Mother to Son,” [Countee Cullen’s] “Harlem Wine” and [Georgia Douglas Johnson’s] “My Little Dreams,” each with a unique sound but similar origin story; all with roots in Harlem, New York.”
“To me, poetry is a form of rap music because it allows you to express yourself at the highest level without boundaries,” said Dupri in a statement. “I’m thrilled that Rémy Martin and the Harlem Writers Guild involved me in this project so that I could use my personal form of expression through music to build upon the power of these legendary words.”
For over 70 years, the Harlem Writers Guild, is the oldest literary organization dedicated to Black writers, has been a beacon for the creation and publishing of “compelling literature of all genres reflective of the African American and African Diaspora experiences of struggle, survival and success, using our art to embrace, promote and sustain Black voices, young and old.” The nearly 300-year-old Rémy Martin states that its own “commitment to celebrating the best that communities and cultures have to offer mirrors the Harlem Writers Guild’s ambition of amplifying the voices of local artists in Harlem.” In addition to the collaboration, the brand has made an undisclosed donation to the Harlem Writers Guild “as a commitment to preserving cultures of excellence and amplifying African American voices.”
”It is important for us at the Harlem Writers Guild to reach younger generations because we want to pass along this extraordinary, historic art form in a way that young people recognize and can build upon using their own voices today,” said Diane Richards, executive director of the Harlem Writers Guild, in a statement. “Teaming up with Rémy Martin on this project allows us to nurture African American literary legacy and inspire voices of the future.”