Jazz star Kendrick Scott has returned home to Houston with a mission to tell the dark story of the Sugar Land 95. The Sugar Land 95 were nearly 100 people whose remains were discovered during the construction of a technical and career center in Fort Bend ISD in 2018. It is believed that these people were part of a late-1800s convict leasing program, which saw Black men incarcerated and then leased out to plantations for work.
Scott’s multi-media project titled “Unearthed” aims to shed light on this often-overlooked part of Texas history. He has teamed up with DaCamera, a Houston-based organization that promotes transformative musical experiences, to bring this project to fruition. Through “Unearthed,” Scott hopes to honor the Sugar Land 95 and give them the recognition they deserve.
But the project hasn’t just been about raising awareness; it’s also served as a way for Scott to reconnect with his hometown. Having spent the majority of his career living and working in New York, he felt like he was losing his connection to home. Being part of “Unearthed” has allowed him to explore and learn more about the place where he grew up.
One of the most crucial parts of the project has been bringing together a team of local creatives. For the text, Scott recruited Houston poet laureate Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton. She helped him give voice to the Sugar Land 95 in his project. For the visual component, he reached out to artist Robert Hodge, an alum of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where Scott also attended.
The resulting project is an ambitious one, and Scott has had his doubts about whether it was even possible. But with the support of the local creative community and organizations like DaCamera, he has been able to make it a reality.
Jazz fans can catch the world premiere of “Unearthed” on Wednesday, May 12, at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston. Tickets are available through DaCamera.
– The Sugar Land 95 were believed to have been leased out to work on a sugar plantation owned by the Imperial Sugar Company.
– Convict leasing was a form of slavery that many southern states used after the end of the Civil War. It allowed state officials to lease out prisoners to private companies as a source of cheap labor.
– Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts has produced many notable alumni, including pop star Beyoncé and jazz pianist Robert Glasper.
Kendrick Scott’s “Unearthed” project is an ambitious multi-media project that aims to shed light on the dark past of the Sugar Land 95. Through the project, Scott hopes to honor these forgotten people and reconnect with his hometown. “Unearthed” is also an excellent example of how local creatives can come together to create something meaningful and important.
Scott’s project speaks to the importance of acknowledging and confronting the darker parts of our past. It also highlights the role that art and creativity can play in this process. “Unearthed” is a prime example of how jazz, poetry, and visual art can come together to create a powerful and moving experience.