Art FOR Something: The Questions
The live music that has spoken to me, of late, is art that seeks to unite, that carries a deeper message and purpose. It is art FOR something.
Ars gratia artis, the poet said, and art for art’s sake can be worthwhile. But in fractured times, ars gratia societatis (art for society) is among the highest aims we can have. To make a statement with your art is to make a difference with your art.
Kurt Elling’s new album, The Questions, is a masterpiece of ars gratis societatis. He has stated a higher purpose of turning towards the fractures, asking the hard questions, and healing divides through potent music and poetry. I think it’s a masterpiece, maybe the masterpiece of his career so far.
The album is full of peaks, but for me the centerpiece is his transformational version of American Tune by Paul Simon. It challenges, it pushes, it questions.
I was lucky enough to hear Kurt sing this live last week as the encore for a potent performance in Grand Rapids – it was, in fact, more powerful than the album itself.
Listen to the whole album, turn toward the fractures along with Kurt, and, if at all possible, go hear him present his vision live.