Jakob Schaffer, left, Ashley Rose, Everett James Harrell, Paige Williams and Krishna Guthrie of the Black Legacy Project will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Portland House of Music. Contributed / Black Legacy Project

In 2020, against a national backdrop of the police shootings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and growing racial and political polarization, the Black Legacy Project was conceived as a way to promote solidarity, equity and belonging through music.

The Black Legacy Project band comes to Portland next week with a performance of songs from its first album, which is set to be released Friday.

“We want to inspire folks to create present-day culture change,” said Trey Carlisle, who started the Black Legacy Project with Todd Mack, founder of Atlanta-based nonprofit Music in Common.

Black Legacy Project co-founder Trey Carlisle first got involved with Music in Common at the age of 17. The nonprofit works with youth and communities to combat hate through collaborative songwriting, multimedia and performance. Contributed / Trey Carlisle

Inspired by artists like Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan, whose songs written decades ago are relevant today, Carlisle said, he and Mack took their project on the road. Since 2021 they have traveled around the country to bring together about 150 artists of all races and backgrounds. The musicians have recorded interpretations of songs central to the Black American community and its history.

The first album includes songs written by Jimmy Driftwood, Leon Bridges, Bruce Springsteen and four original songs.

Now the Black Legacy Project band of eight musicians is on tour to bring that music to audiences. Five of those musicians recorded songs on the new album.


Experiencing the music is moving for both the audience and the performers, Mack said.

“What we’ve seen time and again is that the project seems to have an impact on people. It either reaffirms what they already came in believing, or opens their mind a little to consider a different perspective,” he said.

“We’ve heard from many performers how they feel very moved and inspired to be able to carry on these songs and the stories and history behind them,” Carlisle said.

The Black Legacy Project band will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Portland House of Music. The show opens with a short documentary about the project and closes with a conversational session with the musicians. Tickets are $15 in advance at portlandhouseofmusic.com or $18 the day of the show.

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