Resonance Music Project
In partnership with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
The Spectators


The Spectators
Hughie Lee-Smith


Jordan Hamilton

Musician’s Notes

“My most immediate inspiration for sound that came from my first glance of this piece was the water: Dark, stormy, with an expansive horizon. I imagine waves and try and use some melodies that move up and down to create the backdrop of the song. Moving from Darkest to lightest characters in the painting I notice the young man on the right side of the painting: isolated, confident, intrigued. Then I notice the three characters that share the concrete block with him: calm, gazing, together. What has their attention?

“With a storm approaching, none of the characters seem to be alarmed. With the African character’s attention on something else than his European counterparts, does he know something that the other three do not? Has he been here before and is showing them the attraction for the first time?

“From these motives, I wanted to create a calm but forward moving sound. Using melodies to represent each of the four characters, I wanted to capture the four feelings I got from each character and overlap them as they may in the piece.”

About the Artwork

The Spectators
Date: ca. 1957
Artist: Hughie Lee-Smith, American, 1915-1999
Medium: Oil on Masonite
Credit Line: Gift of Ronda Stryker, William Johnston, and Michael, Megan, and Annie Johnston
Object Number: 2002.7
Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of ArtsVisit website

About the Musician

Jordan Hamilton

Avant Garde cellist and vocalist Jordan Hamilton merges musical styles to tell stories of the human experience through a variety of musical genres.

As a member of Last Gasp Collective and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Jordan can be found performing primarily in the Midwest, where he has opened for national acts such as Eric Roberson and Nappy Roots.

By merging songwriting, loop pedals, sample machines, cello, and vocals, the Western Michigan University Graduate creates an eclectic sound with his music. His most recent release “My Thoughts Are” is a compilation of thoughts that express themselves in hip-hop, folk, and soul music.

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