During his final years in Chicago, Sun Ra fully took on the role of leader of a musical collective exploring other worlds—utopian spaces where ancient and future, home and abroad, might creatively collide. This chapter examines the late-1950s musical development and performative identity of Ra and the Arkestra in the context of Chicago’s dramatic metropolitan restructuring. At a moment when America’s “space dreams” were rooted in suburban fantasy, urban renewal and outer-space conquest, Sun Ra and his colleagues drew on Ethiopianist religious utopianism as well as South Side styles and entertainment culture to fashion a musical geography where ancient Africa and outer space might come together. Presenting themselves as cultural emissaries charged with conveying the experience of an idealized future to a local audience of the present, Ra and his Arkestra members now performed utopia, not by modeling the life of a new society but by furnishing a suggestive musical vehicle for new dreams of collective freedom.
Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.