NAU teams up with community to bring Sun Ra Birthday Bash to Flagstaff

Sun Ra Birthday Bash

April 23, 2019

Northern Arizona University is teaming up with the Interference Series and musicians in the community for the second annual Sun Ra Birthday Basha concert celebrating innovative music at 7 p.m. April 27 at Kickstand Kafe at 719 N. Humphreys St.

Sun Ra was a prolific and history-altering American composer, band leader, keyboard player and poet known for his groundbreaking “cosmic” music, philosophy, recordings and theatrical performances.

NAU faculty and students from the Honors College, jazz studies program and the College of Arts and Letters are partnering with the Flagstaff Interference Series, community members and special guests to perform an evening of Sun Ra’s music and poetry, along with visuals, dance and more.

“NAU is proud to partner with the Interference Series to engage and nurture the cultural life of Flagstaff,” said Rob Wallace, a lecturer in the Honors College. “Linking an Afro-futurist aesthetic with an omnivorous musical approach, Sun Ra and his collaborators performed multimedia spectacles translating Afro-diasporic traditions into the universe of sound.”

The concert will include performances from musicians from Flagstaff and beyond performing Sun Ra’s music and poetry, including arrangements of Sun Ra’s compositions by NAU jazz studies major Eric Nakamoto.

For much of his career, Sun Ra led The Arkestra, an ensemble with an ever-changing name and line-up. Born Herman “Sonny” Blount in Birmingham, Alabama, Sun Ra claimed to have come from Saturn. His playful but serious perspective on how to radically shift peoples’ consciousness in the face of racism and other oppression has been influential to generations of artists, from funkadelic sounds to Janelle Monae.

A donation of $5 is requested at the door. For questions, contact Wallace at or at (928) 523-8249.

Tallie Valverde