Khalil Sullivan is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, playwright, educator, and a member of the creative team developing "At Buffalo," a new musical theater performance based on the 1901 World Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.During their Fall 2017 CAI residency,the Creative Team of "At Buffalo" will conduct site-specific rehearsals and concert readings of At Buffalo and work with Buffalo Museum of Science, Torn Space Theatre.
Sullivan is inspired by the expressive freedom and creativity that came out of the Harlem Renaissance, particularly multi-genre artists such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as the blues and folk traditions of the African-American working class.
His vocal and song-writing influences include Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson, and Bobby McFerrin’s improvisational work with the voice orchestra. Besides working as a professional musician and composer, Khalil is a PhD candidate in English at UC, Berkeley, where he is currently finishing a dissertation on the problems of authenticity in contemporary queer music performance in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Race was on display at the 1901 World Pan American Exposition at Buffalo, New York. In exhibits like “Darkest Africa”, “Old Plantation”, and “The American Negro Exhibit”, concessionaires presented unique, and often conflicting, visions of blackness in America at the turn of the twentieth century. These exhibits left behind a fragmented archive of descriptions, newspaper articles, photographs, and film clips that sheds new light on a critical moment in the construction of modern black and American identity. At Buffalo, a landmark new musical, brings this archive to life—performing it virtually verbatim, making present an experience of the past when definitions of race were literally written, directed, choreographed, and performed in order to reconstruct the American character in the wake of national crisis. During their residency, the Creative Team will conduct site-specific rehearsals and concert readings of a new musical in development about race and the 1901 Pan-American Exposition entitled At Buffalo.