Folk Fest: Arrested Development still seeks to empower
The jeans are no longer acid washed or tapered, we may have not been ready for a black president 15 years ago but now we have one, lumberjacks have taken back plaid, and Michael Jackson is remembered as the greatest their ever was.
Much has changed since the 1990s; many of the hopes and dreams of that decade have come to pass — more freedoms, more rights and more equality. Yet the need for positive words and examples to live by is still as high as it ever was in the last 20 years.
Through out this time Atlanta’s Arrested Development has grown and changed in many ways. What hasn’t changed during their hiatus and experiences with reality TV is the message of their music.
“Our message has always been about empowerment of the disenfranchised,” says Speech, one of the eight members of the alternative hip-hop group. “It’s been about lifting up women, it’s been about protecting the earth. It’s been about self-determination for black people to really rise up to our best selves as a people and changing the direction of ignorance and the violence that’s been plaguing the black community for so long.”
Arrested Development last played Calgary Folk Fest two years ago, performing with K’naan and Buck 65 on a side stage.
“I love being able to go back to places where we’ve sort of built a relationship with people,” Speech explains over the phone days before the festival. “Two years ago we came there and I really saw a great connection with the people of Calgary and just the audience that was there. I just want to get back to the same, I want to continue that.”
Folk Fest Spotlight
Shows: Friday night mainstage, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Sunday 12:50 p.m. Stage 5 (with Mutabaraka, Dick Gaughan, Jason Wilson) and 4:10 p.m. Stage 4 (with Dragon Fli Empire, Kid Koala, Mutabaraka)
For the band’s website click here
What will continue is what the group has been doing their whole career, spreading a message that is relevant and accepted by audiences.
“I think it’s more important just because we’re further and further into this experience of oppression that we’ve had,” Speech says. “Since slavery times we’ve had certain things that have been hard to erase and hard to go the opposite direction of. I think it’s more relevant now to keep that message prevalent so we that can continue to fight it and not allow ourselves to get lethargic and leave it alone.
“And I can tell that when we perform in front of people that they feel it’s more relevant than ever before and they’ll get excited about it.”
Now an ordained minister in the Churches of Christ, Speech concedes that his personal beliefs, along with those of the other members are more apparent beneath the surface of the music.
“Each member has grown in different ways, there is more shades of our personal beliefs that is also under the music and that’s cool, I think that’s right for what we are as a group,” he says.
As a group the band is currently working on their next full-length album. As a solo artist, Speech’s album The Grown Folks Table is only currently only available in Canada at the moment but is slated to released worldwide in September.