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Nabil Ayers in Conversation With Alicia J. Rose
October 14, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmFree
Throughout his adult life, whether he was opening a Seattle record store in the ’90s or touring the world as the only non-white band member in alternative rock bands, Nabil Ayers felt the shadow and legacy of his father’s musical genius, and his race, everywhere. In 1971, a white, Jewish, former ballerina chose to have a child with the famous Black jazz musician Roy Ayers, fully expecting and agreeing that he would not be involved in the child’s life. In his highly original memoir, My Life in the Sunshine (Viking), their son, Nabil Ayers, recounts a life spent living with the aftermath of that decision, and his journey to build an identity of his own despite and in spite of his father’s absence. Growing up, Nabil only meets his father a handful of times. But Roy’s influence is strong, showing itself in Nabil’s instinctual love of music, and later, in the music industry — Nabil’s chosen career path. By turns hopeful — wanting to connect with the man who passed down his genetic predisposition for musical talent — and frustrated with Roy’s continued emotional distance, Nabil struggles with how much DNA can define a family… and a person. Unable to fully connect with Roy, Nabil ultimately discovers the existence of several half-siblings as well as a paternal ancestor who was enslaved. Following these connections, Nabil meets and befriends the descendant of the plantation owner, which, strangely, paves the way for him to make meaningful connections with extended family he never knew existed. Despite his father’s absence, Nabil, through sheer will and a drive to understand his roots, redefines what family truly is. Ayers will be joined in conversation by award-winning filmmaker Alicia J. Rose.