It was many years ago and the venue is now a blur, but the memory of first hearing Helga Davis perform her Feet of Clay is seared into my very soul. I’d known Helga from her day gig at a showroom I frequented in the 1990’s. In her intense gaze was a depth that revealed so much more than the confines of a desk job might suggest and I suppose the beautifully measured cadence and sonorous speaking voice should have tipped me off, but I was unprepared for what I was to experience when she opened her mouth to sing. I was dumbstruck by the power and clarity of her voice.
Amid my own emotional upheaval her lyrics penetrated, “Why has the sun gone away? Who’ll keep the promises made today? You have to make your own way…” Her simple words, epiphanic, expelling the shrapnel from my then war-torn heart.
From her early days with Greg Tate’s band Women in Love, to her role as the disciple Hilarion to Carl Hancock Rux’s Anthony in the Robert Wilson/Bernice Johnson Reagon collaborative staging of Flaubert’s The Temptation of St. Anthony, Helga has made artistic choices that push the boundaries of her own comfort level as well as ours, luring us into ecstatic exploration with her.
Two years ago today she was featured on WNYC ‘s Evening Music Spotlight in a revelatory, hour-and-a-half long interview interspersed with highlights from her body of work. Do carve out the time to allow yourself to luxuriate in this treat of Helga courtesy of New York Public Radio.
Helga Davis from Sharon Bridgforth’s delta dandi Touring Company.