UMF New Commons spotlights Solange’s “A Seat at the Table”

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FARMINGTON – American singer and songwriter Solange’s widely-acclaimed album, “A Seat at the Table,” is the next topic featured by the University of Maine at Farmington’s New Commons Project. According to RollingStone, “A Seat at the Table, is a record about black survival in 2016; a combination of straight talk and refracted R&B.”

Released by Saint Records and Columbia Records, the studio album combined a variety of collaborators including, rappers, singer-songwriters and musicians, and is comprised of funk, soul and contemporary R&B. It is described by Solange as “a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing.”

It debuted at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and topped the U.S. Top R&B / Hip-Hop Albums chart. The lead single, “Cranes in the Sky,” won a Grammy Award in 2016 for best R&B Performance. The album was ranked 312 on the “Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Times” list.

The UMF New Commons events centering on A Seat at the Table are free and will run between March 8 to April 2, 2021:


Due to Covid-19 precautions, the following Open to the Public events are all remote. See Zoom link included in each event.

FACULTY TALK: “Solange in Context: Past and Present Social Engagement in R&B,”
Join talk by Dr. Stephen Grandchamp and Vanessa Brown

Wednesday, March 10, 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. Zoom Link.

KEYNOTE: “I Traveled Seventy States”: Solange & the Poetics of Black Feminist Sonic Alterity,” Keynote by Daphne Brooks (Online)
Wednesday, March 17, 7-9 p.m. Zoom Link

Join Dr. Daphne Brooks, professor of African American, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University, for a live online lecture and discussion of Solange’s A Seat at the Table in context of contemporary Black feminist music. She is also the author of the forthcoming “Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound”

Where and how will we build safe spaces for ourselves? Can we cultivate shelter for one another in this era in which we are hyperaware of chronic racial surveillance, the casual acceptance of misogyny, and quotidian micro-aggressions? And how might we jealously hold onto and rediscover the glory in our own bodies when those bodies are sites of perpetual unpredictability and intensely spectacular vulnerability? These are just some of the questions that Solange both poses and seeks to answer on her breakthrough masterpiece of an album, 2016’s A Seat at the Table. This lecture explores the politics and poetics of spatiality that Solange designs in both her stirring sonic universe and her luminous accompanying visual repertoire. It considers the myriad ways in which Black feminist theories of space and place figure prominently in her twenty-first century Black freedom struggle project, and it interrogates the radial ways that this brilliant artist stages scenes of dazzling Black privacy in the midst of a fraught and perilous public sphere.
Wednesday, March 17, 7-9 p.m. Zoom Link

ZOOM CALL: Online live discussion with Daphne Brooks
Join Professor Brooks for a live online discussion on Solange’s A Seat at the Table in context of contemporary Black feminist music.
Wednesday, March 22, 7 p.m. Open to the Public, Zoom Link


Due to Covid-19 precautions, the following live events are open to a limited number of UMF Community Only members. Social distancing and mask-wearing are required. Those interested in attending must sign up using the corresponding RSVP form. See links below. Individuals who have registered for attendance can check-in at the registration table at event location the day of the event.

WORKSHOP: “Familial Interludes: The Personal and the Political,” a workshop led by Dr. Erika Rodriguez
Wednesday, March 31, 5:30 p.m., Room 023, Roberts Learning Center. UMF Community Only. RSVP Form.

The UMF New Commons program provides a rich offering of free events including expert talks, discussions, films and more, many online, for the education and enjoyment of people in Maine and beyond. Nominated by individuals throughout Maine, the selection of New Commons works have the common thread of representing many of the principles and cultural values that inspire and fascinate Maine residents.

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To learn more about the New Commons Project, and to view many of the events for the first 12 topics, visit the website at:

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A nationally-recognized liberal arts college known for its commitment to student success, UMF provides a challenging yet supportive environment to prepare students for both careers and further study. Rooted in a tradition of teacher preparation, UMF offers top quality programs in the arts and sciences, teacher preparation, and pre-professional studies. Located in the heart of Maine’s four-season outdoor recreational region, UMF is a welcoming, close-knit academic community that prepares students for engaged citizenship, enriching professional careers and an enduring love of learning.

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