Pop icons David Bowie and Prince are spotlighted in campus conference

David Bowie and Prince — two iconic musicians who changed the face of popular music culture in the second half of the 20th century — will be celebrated with a four-day event on campus Wednesday-Saturday, Jan. 25-28, sponsored by the Schwarzman Center, a hub of university-wide student life that aims to unite the entire community through daily activities and major periodic events.

“Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince” will explore the legacies and pathbreaking innovations of these two artists, who, in the words of the organizers, “recognized the ways that popular music can create liberating spaces where audacious cultural and social changes and transformations might flourish.”

“What an extraordinary moment we’re in here at Yale — to have the opportunity to affirm, revel in, and draw energy and inspiration from two of the most influential popular musicians to emerge in the last half century,” says Daphne A. Brooks, professor of African American studies, American studies, theater studies, and of women, gender and sexuality studies, who organized the event.

The event will bring together scholars, musicians, filmmakers, artists, journalists, and students for discussion, critical listening, and musical performances. The four days will culminate in a concert featuring the band TV On The Radio.

“As artistic rule-breakers, spectacular dreamers, and sonic daredevils, David Bowie and Prince each blazed visionary paths in their recordings and performances,” says Brooks. “For a generation growing up in the wake of forward-thinking freedom movements, they imagined and created new worlds through their work. Most importantly, these were artists who believed in celebrating our differences as a way to forge powerful solidarity. The lessons they’ve shared with us through music remain lifelong strategies for living.”

“Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign” is one of three major Schwarzman Center events to be held in 2016-2017. These events are designed to embrace diverse tastes and amplify the experiences and talents of all members of the Yale community, mixing the familiar with the new, and offering engaging social and intellectual experiences.

The following events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the concert by TV On The Radio. Unless otherwise noted, the events listed below will take place at the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St.

Thursday, Jan. 26

4:30-7 p.m. Screening of “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” followed by a Q&A with director D.A. Pennebaker and Charles Musser, professor of American studies, film and media studies, and theater studies. Brian Kane, associate professor in the Department of Music, will give welcoming remarks. Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.

Friday, Jan. 27

8:45 a.m. “‘To the ‘Dearly Beloved,’ ‘Gimme Your Hands ’Cause You’re Wonderful’: On the Importance of (a Rock ‘n’ Roll) Commons.” Brooks will introduce the event.

9-10:30 a.m. Conference session: “‘Take Me With U’: David Bowie, Prince & the Utopian Pop Universe.”

10:30-Noon Conference session: “‘Life On Mars?’ Spirituality & (Im)mortal Imaginaries in Bowie & Prince.”

Noon-1 p.m. Slide and video presentation featuring highlights from the “David Bowie is” exhibition, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

1-2 p.m. Conference session: “‘Hang On to Yourself’: The Making of ‘David Bowie is’” Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St.

2:15-3:45 p.m. Conference session: “‘Around the World in a Day’: Traversing Cities & Borders in Bowie & Prince.”

3:45-5:15 p.m. Conference session: “‘Young Americans’: Prince, Bowie, Funk & the 1970s.”

5:30-7 p.m. “‘Housequake’: A Critical Karaoke Tribute.” Eight distinguished scholars will offer meditations on their favorite tracks by Bowie and Prince — set to the music.

8:30-11 p.m. “‘Modern Love’: Bowie & Prince & the Art of Collaboration,” a roundtable conversation with Donny McCaslin and Sheila E. Sudler Hall, William L. Harkness Hall, 100 Wall St.

Saturday, Jan. 28

9-10:30 a.m. Conference session: “‘Watch That Man’: Visual Bowie, Visual Prince — On Art & Film.”

10:30-noon. Conference session: “‘The Black Album’: Bowie, Prince & Sonic Experimentalism.”

1:30-3 p.m. Conference session: “‘Oh! You Pretty Things’: Theater, Performance & Spectacular Bowie & Prince.”

3-5 p.m. Conference session: “‘Rebirth of the Flesh’: David Bowie & Prince’s (Dis)identifications — On Race, Gender, & Sexuality.”

8-11 p.m. TV On The Radio concert. Tickets are required. Reserve tickets here. Schwarzman Center, 168 Grove St.

In addition to the events listed above, the “Blackstar Rising & the Purple Reign” conference also offered ticketed events with renowned musical artists Questlove, Kimbra, and Solange Knowles.