Cognac maker Rémy Martin is amplifying current artists from Harlem in a tribute to the New York neighborhood’s cultural past with its “Voices of Harlem” campaign.
The project is a partnership with the spirits brand and the Harlem Writers Guild, along with songwriter and producer Jermaine Dupri, to celebrate the Harlem Renaissance, a time in the early 1900s that saw a boom of African American music, dance, literature and theater in New York.
Fred & Farid New York helped pull the project together, uniting the area’s musicians and poets in a series of films that highlights the culture and voices of Harlem.
Through curated content directed by Charles Todd, poems from iconic African American poets of the early 20th century are read by Harlem poets of today.
An opening video explains the process of how Dupri worked with a group of musicians to create the backdrop soundtrack to the poet’s voices. The poems then come alive through carefully chosen voices, like Roya Marsh reciting ‘Harlem Wine’ and Hattress Barbour joyously reciting ‘The Gift to Sing’ in a New York snowfall.
“To me, poetry is a form of rap music because it allows you to express yourself at the highest level without boundaries,” Dupri said 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.”
“At Rémy Martin, celebrating cultures of excellence is deeply rooted in our heritage. With our long-standing relationship with the music world, we recognize that within music there is poetry,” added Tina Reejsinghani, vice president at Rémy Martin Americas. “We are honored to team up with the Harlem Writers Guild to support this community and amplify local voices and artists.”
The project enables the Harlem Writers Guild to pass along the poetic art form to younger generations, according to Diane Richards, executive director of the Harlem Writers Guild, who said, “Teaming up with Rémy Martin on this project allows us to nurture African American literary legacy and inspire voices of the future.”