Though he collaborated with Talking Heads, made classic disco records and influenced countless fellow musicians, Arthur Russell was not well-known during his too-short life, which ended in 1992 due to complications from AIDS. To those who knew him he was a singular musician: a fan of bubblegum pop and disco; an innovative cellist and guitar player; a singer with a soft, reedy, sometimes childlike voice that could sound isolated or open-hearted and ecstatic.
Russell's stature has grown in the years since his death, and especially in the last decade, with a series of reissues of his music and a nearly constant outpouring of love from musicians and fans. The latest is the tribute album Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell, which includes covers of Russell's songs by Sufjan Stevens, Robyn, Blood Orange and many more.
The time is always right to rediscover Russell's work and the story of his life as a musician, so I'm very happy to announce NPR Music's first live film screening, a one-night-only event that will showcase Matt Wolf's great 2008 documentary, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell in a rare big-screen viewing. On Monday, Dec. 1, in honor of World AIDS Day, we will present a screening of the movie in partnership with Oscilloscope Laboratories and the Red Hot Organization.
The show will take place at The Kitchen, the New York performance arts space for which Russell served as the music director in the 1970s, and will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A led by All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen (who spent some time at The Kitchen himself in the '70s and '80s). Panelists will include Russell's partner Tom Lee, collaborators Ernie Brooks and Peter Zummo and music writer Michaelangelo Matos.
If you'd like to be there with us for this special event, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, age and whether or not you'd like to bring a guest. We'll notify you if you've received a ticket by email no later than Thursday, Nov. 27.
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