Underground Railroad to 79th

43 3Arts supporters
$4,130 raised of $4,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on December 11, 2023
    • 103% contributed

As a culmination of various musical and liberational ideas I’ve been tapping into for the last decade, Underground Railroad to 79th will be a new full-length recording of original compositions that traces the rich lineage of great Black music from its origins to today. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, I’m making this album as an ode to my community. With your support, this album will be workshopped live in a series of concert settings and released for distribution in 2024.

About This Project

Underground Railroad to 79th is unlike anything I’ve done before, both literally and figuratively. It’s truly the fully realized culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted in an album. From my experimentations with different instruments, to putting together modules in a eurorack synthesizer, this record will share my pathway to discovering new sonic secrets. There's a range of sounds, from Pop, “free-jazz,” and hip-hop, to orchestral elements, compositions, and soundscapes. Great Black music is vast, expansive, and omnipotent. I figured I'd be doing myself and my community a massive disservice if I didn't find ways of sharing that.

An incredibly robust foundation has already been laid, with about 40% of the tracks developed at this time. Considering that this is a considerable undertaking, you can imagine how difficult it is to complete without resources and accessibility beyond one’s own four walls. I’ve had to conquer feelings of fear and unworthiness to reach a point where I could even consider this project a reality. My love for the stories that deserve to be told about my people was enough to override any insecurities. I consider this album to be the very thing that delivered me, which fuels an unyielding will to get it done.

I’ve already had the pleasure of working with some of my favorite artists on this album, both here and abroad. Features so far include: Angel Bat Dawid, Edward Wakili-Hick (Sons of Kemet, Nok Cultural Ensemble), avery r. young, Arif Smith (Black Monument Ensemble), and more. The list of considerations for collaboration will grow as more resources to secure them become available.  

With this campaign, I’m specifically looking to raise funds to cover the physical and digital distribution of the album, equipment purchases needed to finish production and recording, compensation for more featured artists and musicians, and tools to film and document the entire process (both written and visual). Funds are also needed to raise the level of production concerning the live communal workshops and the final performance of the album in its entirety.

I’m looking to invite participants, donors, and members of the community to public events where I workshop the album live. I foresee somewhere between 3-5 of these throughout this and the next year where we activate space collectively and take a deep intimate dive into my process. I’ve already been able to do one at The Silver Room in Hyde Park that went exceptionally well and set the tone for what’s possible when we come together and engage in sonic exploration as a community. I hope those who join me on this journey can be there to attend the final show where I perform the album in its entirety live! The target release date is August 13, 2024.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $10
    Thank you on social media. ($10.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $25
    Digital download of the album, plus your name featured in album documentation. ($15.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    A special signed zine, documenting the album process. ($30.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Everything above, plus a custom t-shirt. ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Exclusive invitation to an in-studio demo of the musical process, plus all of the above. ($200.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    VIP seats at one of the community listening sessions, plus all of the above and a lot of gratitude. ($450.00 is tax deductible.)

Sulyiman Stokes

Make a Wave Artist

Sulyiman is a dynamic interdisciplinary artist hailing from Chicago’s South Side. While he is self-taught in many aspects of his artistry, Sulyiman’s introduction to music as a multidimensional medium for expression came early and has continued to shape much of …

View Sulyiman Stokes's profile
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    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Gabrielle Ntsimi

    • Alexander Trickett

    • Maciej Herda

    • David Brown

    • Brian Ashby

    • Dartricia Rollins

    • Tim Ferrin

    • Amanda Williams

    • Dozzy Ibekwe

    • Jason Kersey

    • Ra Lee

    • Nikki Jolly

    • Sharon Udoh

    • Anna Abzug

    • Beto de Freitas

    • Nancy Chen


    • Kate Walsh

    • Dorian Sylvain

    • Melvin Cade

    • marcus williams

    • Seb Chedick

    • Lonnie Norwood

    • Ian Martin

    • Cat Mahari

    • Thea & Mark Gallagher

    • Jocelyn Brown

    • Brian Seyler

    • Selam Kidane

    • Arianna Barrett

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Scott McNiece

    • Angel Bat Dawid

    • Karin Obaid

    • Julius Stokes

    • Brandon Calhoun

    • Brandon Reed

    • Malik Jackson

    • Sydney Chatman

    • Edgar Baca

    • Tim Corpus

    • Naima Karlsson

make it work


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 Additional support provided by: 

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