Directed by Keena Ferguson
One family deals with racism in the Jim Crow South months before the Civil Rights Movement begins
This mini episode not only serves as a bridge and a preview of Season 2, but it also marks the end of an era for the show so I wanted the characters to mark that passing. How we got here will is the question that needs to be answered.
Episode 5: In Color
Season one finale. Season two schedule coming soon.
I was interviewed on TaeTalk last week, and was asked about Black trauma and how many Black projects seems to rely on it. At that point, the host had not heard this episode. While I don't like projects that rely on it, this ending is where Blackbirds: Volume 1 was always headed.
It's a haunting tale of loss. Robert loses his innocence when his brother is killed and Joshua loses his at roughly the same age years later. It was hard editing this episode. At the end, it felt like the weight of completing the episode was removed, but the heavier weight of Joshua's pain and suffering was heaped upon them.
Thanks for taking the journey so far - it will continue.
My TaeTalk appearance has not been posted yet. When it is, it will appear here. Make sure to check it out.
Episode 4: Clear Picture
What happened to Phillip? Joshua finally has an answer for Mrs. Harrell. In this episodes we begin to see the impacts that the television is having on the family.
Episode: 3: Changing the Channel
Robert got the TV, but now what. Meanwhile, Joshua gets some advice on Mrs. Harrell.
This episode is a companion piece to Episode 2. Episode 2 in part dealt with how Robert was treated by white people while trying to buy the television. Episode 3 shifts to a different point. Here we see a response from some of his Black neighbors.
About that N word. It was in the script. I wrestled with it and then changed it and it still ran around in my head. I put it back in because I felt in the moment, yes Leona would say that. The art, in this case the story, has to be honest, and as soon as Keena said it in studio it felt real, it felt like the confrontation built to that moment.
Fun fact - when the talented Ricco Ross, who plays Edgar and Rev. Johnson. submitted his clips the first time, they had an echo to them. He resubmitted, but when I listened to Reverend Johnson with that reverb it sounded perfect.
Sometimes the accidents are happy accidents that work in our favor.
Episode 2: Bad reception
I love this episode. Kareem really brings it on as Robert. The idea here and what I wanted to key on was what does it mean to be a Black man every day in America. That was the primary theme, but the secondary theme was about being powerless. Robert is powerless to change his past, powerless to deal with the racism he faces and finally he is powerless, for a time, in dealing with his feelings.
The background voices and sounds were fun to play with. The alley scene with Milton was hard and traumatic to write at some points, but this is the abuse, fear and victimization that Black people could face at any moment in the deep south.
What did you think about this episode .. drop me a line and let me know.
Episode 1: Summer
The McCrays are a typical Black family in Dernier, LA, but as summer begins circa 1956, just months before the Civil Rights Movement kicks into full gear, fate will change the family forever.
Notes: The opening is still hard for me to listen to. According to the NAACP, from 1882-1968, there were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the United States. Who knows how many went unrecorded. The methods were brutal. Black men and women and children were hanged, burned, dragged and drowned.
Sadly in many instances, their bodies then became exhibition as lynching parties posed for pictures near their handiwork. In some cases, parts of the body were taken as souvenirs.
I wanted to capture the impacts of that violence and put all the pain and anguish in one character.
I wrote it, but Sabah's Sabah El-Amin made it come alive. Her voice is haunting and tragic as she does the opening.
From there, opening a window into this family was easy, but the lynching never left me as I was writing.
As a child I was plagued by nightmares from my own family tragedy. I know what it's like to be haunted.
For more information on lynchings visit: https://www.naacp.org/history-of-lynchings/
To comment visit: BlackbirdsV1@gmail.com
Engrossing, compelling story
This is a must-listen for every American. What an excellently written, produced, and performed audio play that brings listeners deep into the lives of a family in the Deep South. The narrator and the voice actors are incredible, moving, hilarious, and gripping. The writing is flawless and leaves you wanting more. The plot device surrounding the TV is brilliant. Listen to every episode!
Worth subscribing to
Great story of a family in a past era with some mystery, romance, and tragedy. Vivid production, great cast, and a hypnotic female narrator with a unique style. Definitely stands out amongst today’s slate of Audio Drama
Interesting and Dramatic!
Blackbirds Vol 1 is story telling at at its best. The characters and story are more than interesting, they are friends with a message that you want to listen to now and later. You’ll be eager to listen to the episode. The story is timely and real…black families in the south lived and continue to live in a reality that is so dramatic it is challenging to see how they survive…and they DO survive! Congrats to Andre and Keena - Blackbirds is amazing!