Dameun Maurice Strange is a sound artist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer whose conceptual chamber works, choral pieces and operas are focused on stories of the African diaspora, often exploring afrofuturist themes. Strange is compelled to express through sound, music and poetry, the beauty and resilience of the Black experience, digging into a pantheon of ancestors to tell stories of a triumph, while connecting the past, present, and future. While his sound experiments have many dimensions, he uses West African polyrhythms, with classical music forms, contemporary jazz harmonic explorations, along with found sounds and historic recordings to create modern afrofuturist performances that disrupt the notion of genre and what Black music is and can be and moreover what Blackness is and can be.
Strange was raised in Washington, D.C. and got his start with music at age 5 as a member of the DC Youth Orchestra program and and interest that continued to be cultivated at Metropolitan AME Church where he was a featured saxophone soloist throughout his high school years. Strange currently lives in Saint Paul, MN where he been a featured lecturer on art in the community, afrofuturism and art in the 21st Century at Macalester College, the University of MN and other Twin Cities institutions.
Strange is an award winning composer, Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and had been a featured composer with Alternative Motion Project for 6 years. The Cedar Cultural Center, International renown artist Seitu Jones via the McKnight Foundation, Ananya Dance Theatre are amongst his most recent commissioners. In 2017, Strange premiered his first full length opera Mother King inspired by the life and death of Alberta Williams King with his upstart opera organization, OperaRising 52. He has also been a featured writing contributor with Pollen Midwest and Nourrir Magazine. Aside from his creative pursuits, Strange is an arts advocate and a creative consultant to leaders and organizations in the for profit, nonprofit and public sectors.
Strange graduated from Macalester College with a Bachelor’s of Art in music with a focus on African drumming and composition, and English (poetry writing). He worked with such artists as J. Otis Powell, Sage Francis, Sha Cage. Strange has used art as a tool to organize communities while working for ACORN, Grassroots Solutions and other campaigns. Previously, he worked as a program associate at the Bush Foundation, and most recently served as the executive director of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association.
To learn more about Dameun's work as an activist/organizer, click here.
Projects and Collaborations:
Strange New Music Experiment: Founded in 2010, the Strange New Music Ensemble is dedicated to the performance, promotion, and preservation of new and contemporary art music. An experiment with sound, they endeavor to build community through the performance of art, avant garde music, and poetry, sharing narratives that inspire revolutionary creativity.
KBDS: Based on 10 years of informal collaboration, KBDS consists of experimental duo Kahlil Brewington and Dameun Strange, and marks their first official collaborative venture. Heavily influenced by composers ranging from J.S. Bach to Yusef Lateef and Bobby McFerrin, KBDS guides their listeners through an audio excursion of ambient sound, a web of digital percussion, drums, guitar, synthesizers, saxophone, and live electronic sampling.
Moors Blackmon: Drawing from artists such as Herbie Hancock, Parliament Funkadelic, Sun Ra, and Jimi Hendrix, Moors Blackmon creates music that can best be described as 'psychadel-ectric'. With Dameun Strange on voice and key tar, Kahlil Brewington on drums, and Antoine Martinneau on bass, their music is an intergalactic exploration, traveling through time and space to investigate the infinite possibilities of form, style, and sonic reverberation.
Strange Perspective: Accomplished musicians in their own right, artists See More Perspective and Dameun Strange join forces to create 'Strange Perspective', an amalgamation of their many eclectic interests. Their first collaborative project, 'Strange Perspective and the Lost Soul's Boy's Choir in Jazz Funeral', is an eerie yet lighthearted Halloween suite, taking inspiration from the New Orleans Jazz Funeral tradition and mingling it with the electricity and color of a Dia de los Muertos celebration. Their second effort is a sci-fi opus of boom bap electronica, rugged dance music, mango sweet melodies, and sharp, gritty philosophical lyricism.
OperaWorks 52: The mission of OperaWorks 52 is to bring opera back to the people, highlighting new narratives and creating space for new interpretations of intention behind its Latin root 'work'. Pushing beyond the former confines of the genre, OperaWorks 52 advocates for a more inclusive exploration of its form and style allowing stories of people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and the mythologies and legends of non-European cultures to take center stage. Their work challenges the status quo of Euro-centric exclusivity and makes way for boundless possibility.