The Half-White Album is a book that was released to the public this past April that weaves together poetry, fiction and nonfiction before it is musically performed.
Cynthia Sylvester (Diné) is the author of The Half-White Album and the performance’s speaker. Sylvester is a native Albuquerquian and her work has appeared in ABQ In Print, Leon Literary Review, Lunch Ticket, As Us Journal and other magazines.
The Half-White album is a compilation of Sylvester’s characters that span over poetry, non-fiction essays and fictional stories all depicting an aspect of the author in one shape or form.
“This collection was formed from the constraints of life. The pieces in the book, fiction, non-fiction and poetry were written well over a decade and they explore the experiences and history that have impacted me,” Sylvester said.
Since the release of The Half-White Album, Sylvester and her band, The Half White Band, have been traveling around the state of New Mexico performing in places such as the Tortuga Gallery and now UNM’s own Hodgin Hall. The band consists of five members: Nicol Soul, Pepper Joy Greggs, James H. Greggs, Bill Writt and Pax Garcia.
The Half White Band are a nomadic band who have come together for Sylvester’s shows. While the band has not been working with Sylvester long, Joy Greggs says they’re honored to be a part of The Half-White Album.
“I hope they tell their stories and lift up the voices of their people. I hope Cindy gets to see the day when the marriage of music and storytelling in this way becomes the cultural norm. Not just for Albuquerque and New Mexico, but for all nations,” Joy Greggs said.
Sylvester has an overlying hope for The Half-White Album, one in which an environment of healing can be created. “Rarely, if ever, are any of us healed in isolation. Healing is an act of communion,” is a quote written by author bell hooks. This is the message Sylvester said she wants to create at shows.
“We have had really decent audiences at our shows. You can tell this whole concept is new to them, but they definitely find it inspiring and for many, nostalgic, even,”Joy Greggs said.
Leading the Half White Band vocally and on keyboard is James Greggs. He said anytime an otherwise marginalized voice is acknowledged and given the space to be who they are, it’s a very special place to be.
“Cindy is an amazing writer and listening to her heart through story form is awe inspiring,” Greggs said.
Sylvester and the Half White Band will be coming to perform on UNM campus on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 7-8 p.m. in Hodgin Hall’s Bobo Room, located on the third floor.
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BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BillyJackDL
Editors note 9/22/23: A previous version of this article titled Sylvester's band incorrectly as The Covers, they are in fact called the Half White Band, The Covers are a group of characters in Sylvester's book.
BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL