Act Like You Know: Sun Ra
Records show that 100 years ago today, a boy named Herman Poole Blount was born in Birmingham, Ala. Between that moment and his passing in 1993, the man nicknamed "Sonny" developed huge musical talent, synthesized an all-encompassing Afro-futurist worldview and grew into the name Le Sony'r Ra — Sun Ra for short. And he lives on as a cultural hero at the intersection of flamboyant outsider and self-made genius.
For a man for whom outer space was a guiding metaphor, he was a lot of different things on Earth. Here's a short list:
Behind his esoteric parables, contradictions and mythologies, there's at least one constant. Sun Ra was often recognized as one of the hardest-working musicians anywhere he went — and surely one of the most original.
His is a huge oeuvre that people spend lifetimes exploring. In fact, the Sun Ra Archives are re-releasing 21 major albums remastered for iTunes for his centennial arrival date — just a fraction of a discography which some historians estimate at over 180 records. Here's a quick introduction to that catalog in five essential tracks.
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