Art Basel is officially underway, and museums across the city are busy presenting carefully curated events and exhibitions this week and beyond. At Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), this means the arrival of its ever-popular PAMM Presents, the anchor event for the museum’s jam-packed schedule of artist talks, performances, and concerts throughout Miami Art Week.
Chicago-based soul singer and poet Jamila Woods, along with up-and-coming R&B act Ama Lou, will headline this year’s event. They’re the ideal tag team to curate a night of introspection for attendees: There’s plenty to mull over as 2019 and the decade come to a close, and Woods and Lou have enjoyed spectacular years that should give them plenty to sing about. Woods’ critically acclaimed sophomore album, Legacy! Legacy!, was released via Jagjaguwar this past May, and Lou shared her major-label debut, the Ama, who? EP, just last month.
Woods’ booking at PAMM shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s familiar with her work: She honors creatives such as Frida Kahlo and Jean-Michel Basquiat on Legacy! Legacy! and has always been vocal about her admiration of artists in a variety of mediums. Her dedication to her craft is real, and it’s palpable in everything she does. She has placed an emphasis on arts education (specifically for black people of all ages) and has focused her attention in the past year on celebrating the black experience and its rich history in as many ways and artistic forms as possible. This is the animating force behind Legacy! Legacy!, where each track is dedicated to a different black or brown historical figure as well as the pricelessness of the work they’ve given the world. Like her older songs “VRY BLK” and “Blk Grl Soldier,” Legacy! Legacy! was created to celebrate the identities of everyone who has helped to influence Woods.
Lou, like Woods, makes no secret about her love for art in all its myriad forms: She wrote, directed, and starred in a short film accompanying her EP DDD last year (all of which was filmed by her sister, director Mahalia John). The year was also a busy one for her with the release of her album Ama, Who? and her “Northside” music video in October. Luckily for listeners, Ama, Who? is a perfect introduction to the young Brit and makes it easy for PAMM Presents guests who might not be familiar with her to quickly get acquainted with her music.
Lou and Woods will be the latest to join a long line of R&B and soul musicians who’ve performed at PAMM Presents, which has welcomed the likes of Devonté Hynes under his Blood Orange moniker, Kelela, and Kilo Kish. Like Blood Orange and others, Woods and Lou are multidisciplinary in their art and repeatedly buck convention in favor of invention. Additionally, as conversations regarding white supremacy in the United States reach a fever pitch while the conditions that prompt that dialogue continue to deteriorate, it can’t be ignored that PAMM has repeatedly and admirably presented black artists who’ve placed their social concerns and struggles at the forefront of their music.
Anyone looking for a relief from the craziness of Art Basel — or the very real madness gripping the nation and pervading our lives — would be well served to swing by PAMM’s waterfront terrace Thursday and take in the soothing sound of Lou’s and Woods’ voices.
PAMM Presents Jamila Woods. With Ama Lou, DJ Cry Baby, and others. 8 p.m. Thursday, December 5, at Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-375-3000; pamm.org. Admission is limited to certain PAMM members and VIP attendees of Art Basel, Art Miami, Aqua Art Miami, Context Miami, Design Miami, NADA Miami, and Untitled Art Fair.