Daily Distraction: Watch a performance documentary of Mark Lomax's 'Four Women'

Joel Oliphint

It could take years to fully plumb the depths of drummer and composer Mark Lomax's 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12-album cycle that traces Black America from the beginning of the slave trade in 1619 through today and into the future.

So it helps to have a jumping-off point for the work, and a new project commissioned by the Johnstone Fund for New Music provides just that. "Four Women" is a four-movement work composed by Lomax and performed by UCelli: The Columbus Cello Quartet. The pieces pay tribute to Queen Nzinga of the Mbundu people, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Angela Davis and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“These women represent a greater story of the contributions Black women have made to societies across the world throughout history,” Lomax said in a statement about the project. “I chose four that exemplify womanism in a way that was unapologetic, and frankly, bad-ass. They made their mark on the world because they refused to be anything other than who they are. Their stories need to be told, and this composition celebrates examples of the power that derives from the most authentic expression of humanity.”

In the one-hour documentary/performance video below, Lomax narrates each segment, which also features artwork and commentary by local artist Richard Duarte Brown, who made paintings of each woman.


UCelli: The Columbus Cello Quartet with Richard Duarte Brown's portraits of the 'Four Women' in Mark Lomax's composition: Queen Nzinga of the Mbundu people, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Angela Davis and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.