Photo by Danny Blanco



Samora Pinderhughes

The Healing Project


Saturday, April 2, 2022
8:00 PM
Bing Studio


Samora Pinderhughes, vocals, piano, and electronics
Elena Pinderhughes, flute and vocals
Marcus Shelby, bass
Howard Wiley, drums
Bobby Gonz, spoken word


Generously supported by the Koret Foundation. Co-commissioned by Art for Justice, Soros Justice, Unbound Philanthropy, Creative Capital, and Carnegie Hall.

Stanford Live Season Sponsor: 


PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Please be considerate of others and turn off all phones, pagers, and watch alarms. Photography and recording of any kind are not permitted. Thank you.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Masks are no longer required for indoor performances but are strongly recommended.

About the Program

How do we survive in America? Bay Area pianist, composer, and activist Samora Pinderhughes brings together world-class musicians, artists, and poets in The Healing Project, a new, multidisciplinary work that explores the daily realities of violence, incarceration, and detention in the United States. With musical compositions, audio interviews, and raw testimonials, The Healing Project is a search for what it means to live and love while dealing with hurt, an exploration of vulnerability and process, and a celebration of healing and resistance.

"I've been working on The Healing Project for eight years now. It's my try at speaking directly to the many damages caused by our society's systems or prison, detention, and structural violence, and the many beautiful, different, and deep ways that people figure out how to heal themselves and others from the things they go through, in spite of it all." 

In addition to the performance at Stanford Live, The Healing Project consists of an exhibit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (now through June 19, 2022), the release of Pinderhughes' album, Grief, and a digital archive of the installation which features an open-source site where people can listen directly to the recordings of The Healing Project interviews scored to music. 

Grief is the most personal part of The Healing Project for Pinderhughes, who wrote all the songs and makes his official debut as a singer on the album. Written in the spirit of music from the ’60’s and ’70s by artists like Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield who made powerful statements about life and social justice through their music, Grief aims to evoke feeling through texture and harmony by underlining the human voice as a bonding agent.  

Post-Performance Dialogue

Envisioning a World Without Prison: Art, Abolition, and Healing
Saturday, April 2 | Bing Studio


Stay after the performance for a dialogue with Samora Pinderhuges, Ginale Harris, and Bobby Gonzales moderated by Adamu Chan.

Ginale Harris' work and volunteer experience include over 30 years of advocating, facilitating and managing programs for community members involved in and/or impacted by crime. Whether acting as a Youth Program Manager, a Parole and Probation Specialist or a mentor for San Francisco's Community Response Network Outreach program, her approach was always rooted in solutions.

Born in San Jose, Bobby Gonz developed a raw style of songwriting while serving a life sentence since age 16. His songs reflect remorse, accountability, and the unlearning of distorted beliefs that raised him in the alleys of Silicon Valley. In 2019, he joined Common on stage during a concert and round table conversation organized by the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign.

Adamu Chan is a 2022 Mellon Arts Fellow at Stanford's CCSRE. He is a filmmaker, writer, and community organizer from the SF Bay Area who was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison during one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. He produced numerous short films while there, using his vantage point as an incarcerated person to focus the viewer’s gaze on issues related to social justice. 

About the Artists

Samora Pinderhughes is a composer, pianist, vocalist, filmmaker, and multidisciplinary artist known for striking intimacy and carefully crafted, radically honest lyrics alongside high-level musicianship. He is also known for using his music to examine sociopolitical issues and fight for change and works in the tradition of the black surrealists throughout the African Diaspora, those who bend word, sound, and image towards the causes of revolution. Pinderhughes is a prison and police abolitionist, an anti-capitalist, and an advocate for process over product.

As an artist, Pinderhughes’ goal is that people will live differently after experiencing what he makes—that it will affect how they think, how they act, how they relate to others, how they consider their daily relationships to their country and their world.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Pinderhughes began playing music at two years old and started piano at seven. His life changed forever when he was granted entry into the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra program, a free program for Bay Area youth, where he first studied harmony, learned about jazz, and began composing. He also studied music in Cuba for the time he and his family lived there in his youth. After graduating high school, Samora moved to New York to study at Juilliard under master teachers Kenny Barron and Kendall Briggs. It was also during this time that he met his primary artistic mentor, MacArthur-winning playwright Anna Deavere Smith.

This started Pinderhughes down the path of writing lyrics and combining film and theater with his music in radical new ways. His first major political music project was The Transformations Suite, combining music, theatre, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within the communities of the African Diaspora, co-written by Christophe Abiel and Jeremie Harris. This was followed by The Black Spring EP in 2020, produced with Jack DeBoe, and songs including "Inertia," "Process," "No Plce," and "Star-Blooded Work Song."

Pinderhughes has collaborated with many artists across boundaries and scenes including Herbie Hancock, Common, Glenn Ligon, Sara Bareilles, Daveed Diggs, Titus Kaphar, and Lalah Hathaway. He works frequently with Common on compositions for music and film and is featured as a composer, lyricist, vocalist, and pianist on the new albums August Greene and Let Love with Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggins. He has performed his compositions at Carnegie Hall, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Kennedy Center, and toured internationally with artists including Branford Marsalis, Christian Scott, Jose James, and Emily King.

Pinderhughes is the first-ever Art for Justice + Soros Justice Fellow and a recipient of Chamber Music America’s 2020 Visionary Award. He has also been designated as a Creative Capital awardee, a Joe’s Pub / Public Theater NYC Artist-in-Residence, and a Sundance Composers Lab fellow. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School and is currently getting his Ph.D. at Harvard University in the Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry program under the direction of Vijay Iyer.

Pinderhughes also scored the award-winning documentary Whose Streets? and the Field of Vision film Concussion Protocol. The short film for his song "Process," directed with Christian Padron, won 2021’s Best Experimental Film award at Blackstar Film Festival. He is a member of Blackout for Human Rights, the arts & social justice collective founded by Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, and was musical director for their #MLKNow and #JusticeForFlint events.

Elena Pinderhughes is a vocalist and flutist from the Bay Area, who began singing and playing the flute at age seven. By nine she was performing and recorded her first CD, Catch 22, and at eleven she was featured in The Music in Me, an HBO special about young musicians. Fluent in many styles, she has won numerous “best soloist” awards at festivals and from Downbeat magazine. A 2013 YoungArts Gold Award recipient, US Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and Downbeat’s 2016 “Rising-Star Flutist,” she was a member of the Grammy Band, San Francisco Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Young Musicians Choral Orchestra.

Ms. Pinderhughes has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the White House, and the Kennedy Center; at festivals and clubs throughout Europe, Japan, Africa, and South America, including Coachella, Monterey Jazz Festival, Marciac Festival, and Montreux Jazz Festival; and with Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, Kenny Barron, Christian Scott, Carlos Santana, Josh Groban, Common, and Future.

She appears on Herbie Hancock’s recent album, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Stretch Music (Introducing Elena Pinderhughes), Ambrose Akinmusire’s The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint (Blue Note), and Common’s Black America Again. She is currently performing and recording with a range of musicians as well as with her own group and touring internationally with Herbie Hancock, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and Common.

In 2015 Ms. Pinderhughes signed with SRP Music Group—responsible for signing Rihanna, among others—and began her journey as a solo artist. She is working on her debut project, which will showcase her voice and songwriting and bring together her musicality, harmony, rhythm, and culture to create a specific sound all her own.

Marcus Anthony Shelby is a composer, bassist, bandleader, and educator who currently lives in San Francisco, California. His work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives social movements and music education. 

 In 1990, Marcus Shelby received the Charles Mingus Scholarship to attend Cal Arts and study composition with James Newton and bass with Charlie Haden. Currently, Shelby is the Artistic Director of Healdsburg Jazz, an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and a past resident artist with the San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Shelby has composed several oratorios and suites including Harriet Tubman, Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio, Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the BluesGreen and Blues, and a children’s opera Harriet’s Spirit produced by Opera Parallel 2018. Shelby also composed the score and performed in Anna Deavere Smith’s Off-Broadway Play and HBO feature film Notes from the Field (2019). Shelby is also the voice of Ray Gardener in the 2020 Oscar-Winning Disney Pixar film SOUL. Shelby has also worked with a range of artists including Angela Y. Davis’ Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (2019), Joanna Haigood’s Dying While Black and Brown (2014), Margo Hall’s Bebop Baby (2013), and Sonny’s Blues (2008), the Oakland Ballet’s Ella The SF Girl Choir (2013), The Oakland Youth Chorus (2014), and many other productions over the past 23 years. Shelby has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 2013 and has worked with the Equal Justice Society for over 20 years. The Marcus Shelby Orchestra has released 5 CDs—The Lights Suite, Port Chicago, Harriet Tubman, Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Transitions.

Howard Wiley is “the most prodigious Bay Area saxophonist of his generation” (Berkeleyside). Having been mentored by Bay Area great Jules Broussard and sharing formative bandstand experiences with the likes of Clark Terry, Jason Moran, Orrin Evans, and Lauryn Hill, the Berkeley-born Wiley is a shining example of innate musical talent meeting opportunity born of hard lessons well learned. Association with the Thelonious Monk Institute and GRAMMY All-American Jazz Band established Wiley as a young talent on the rise, and his work as a professional has more than made good on his prodigious beginnings.

Born in San Jose, Bobby Gonz developed a raw style of songwriting while serving a life sentence since age 16. His songs reflect remorse, accountability, and the unlearning of distorted beliefs that raised him in the alleys of Silicon Valley. In 2019, he joined Common on stage during a concert and round table conversation organized by the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign.




Upcoming Events

Nduduzo Makhathini
Wed, Apr 27 at 7:00 PM | Bing Studio


Buy Tickets


Do Not Fear the Past
featuring Donita Volkwijn and the Astraeus Quartet
Fri, Apr 29 at 7:00 PM | Bing Studio

Buy Tickets