Artist Dr. Jackie “Bouvier” Copeland came to Albright College on Thursday, April 14 to share her new album, Blachant, at the Sound Futures event.
The purpose of Sound Futures was to listen to Copeland’s debut record, and to conduct an interview with her after the session, hosted by Albright’s Assistant Professor of Music, Mark Lomanno.
“I never thought I would do this in my career, but it was a secret dream [of mine] that I would do a jazz/healing album,” explained Copeland. “Blachant comes, first, from my experience growing up in Philadelphia.”
According to Fully Altered, Copeland’s Blachant is “a fusion of jazz, rhythm and blues, and the sacred music traditions of her youth, including her South Carolina Gullah-Geechee family roots; Philadelphia’s Black church; and her Catholic schooling, which included Gregorian chants.”
With her music and charity, Copeland connects diverse disciplines and communities to heal people, society, and the planet. Her philanthropic journey has led to digging into her creative side to produce a healing album with ties to her black heritage.
“The suffering that I witnessed in the world and from my people from all backgrounds during COVID encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone with my music,” Copeland said. “When there’s so much pain in the world, you have to work so hard to create an instance of joy.”
While Blachant is a combination of many different areas, it is a process of reflection, social action, and prayer. The project was made to help those who seek personal wellness in this time of turbulence and uncertainty.
Copeland’s inspirations for her music stems from a long list of famous jazz musicians from Billie Holiday to Nina Simone to Stevie Wonder. Though her sound is much different from theirs as it is a combination of jazz, traditional African rhythms, and Gregorian chants.
The album takes a lot of influence from her cultural music background, which includes her South Carolina Gullah-Geechee family roots, Philadelphia’s Black church, and her Catholic schooling.
“All of these different [musical] traditions are a part of who I am and my sonic signature,” Copeland said.
Blachant is produced by Grammy winner, Ben Williams, who encouraged Copeland to write her own music. She wrote the lyrics as well as created the melodies and rhythms for the album, which is released under her sobriquet, Bouvier.
Not only does Copeland write and perform music, but she also is the founder and chief executive officer of The Women Invested to Save Earth Fund (WISE). The fund was created to help “climate impact technologies in the corners of the world often overlooked by innovation funders but most affected by environmental crisis.” She also was recently recognized by the mayor of Philadelphia for a lifetime of advocacy in the city.
All the net sale proceeds from Copeland’s album will go directly to the WISE fund as well as its program, Black Philanthropy Month (BPM). According to their website, the “primary aims of BPM are informing, involving, inspiring and investing in Black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all its forms, for the benefit of our planet, our communities, our organizations and our lives. A new organizing concept frames the BPM campaign each year.”
Blachant uses these anthropological experiences to shape her music in an inspirational and healing way. Both sonically and stylistically, this is much different from what you hear from a typical jazz album. Though, this uniqueness is exactly what Copeland wanted.
“This album is a risk, but this music can heal other people as it has healed me.”
Blachant is out now on streaming platforms and on CD.