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C.V. Starr Center for the


Study of the American Experience

Marlon Saunders

Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow 2017

Marlon Saunders is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. A native of Kent County, Maryland, Saunders is a former professor of voice at Berklee College of Music. He currently teaches at NYU’s Tish Center for the Arts. Saunders has two solo recordings on his independent label, Black Honey Records. Saunders toured with Stevie Wonder on The Songs In The Key of Life Tour, served as vocal contractor for Sam Smith, and has toured with Bobby McFerrin as a member of his vocal group, Voicestra.

As the Frederick Douglass fellow, Saunders worked with students in the Starr Center’s oral history program to conduct more than 45 interviews over the course of three weekends with Kent County’s African American residents. Students then helped Saunders create an original multi-media work of music, the art of conversation, and photography related to Black Americans working in Kent County.

The final production, Choppin’ at the Shop, used the imagery of the barbershop and the beauty salon, and wove together ideas about economics, politics, race and gender in order to demonstrate the power of hopes and dreams.

Held at the Garfield Center for the Arts, the production was the culminating event of seven weeks of public arts and humanities programs offered by the Starr Center, Washington College,  Sumner Hall and over 20 other community partners, in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibition, “The Way We Worked.”

For more about Marlon Saunder’s fellowship and Choppin’ At the Shop, click here.

To see photos from Choppin at the Shop, click here.