Julian Saporiti 2020. Photograph by Emilia Halvorsen.
"Boat People" from 1942.
"An act of revisionist subversion." - NPR
No-No Boy is an immersive multimedia work blending original folk songs, storytelling, and projected archival images to illuminate hidden American histories. Taking inspiration from his own family’s history living through the Vietnam War, as well as interviews with World War II Japanese Incarceration camp survivors and other stories of Asian American experience, Nashville born songwriter Julian Saporiti has transformed years of doctoral research at Brown University into an innovative project bridging a divide between art and scholarship. By turning archival study and fieldwork into a large repertoire of folk songs and visuals Saporiti has been able to engage audiences with difficult conversations through song and storytelling, performing with a revolving cast of collaborators everywhere from rural high schools and churches to New York City's Lincoln Center.
In the spring of 2019, Saporiti expanded the project's scope, embarking on a trip to the Mexican border. Playing concerts for asylum seekers and aid workers in Laredo, Crystal City (former home of a WWII Internment Camp), and Dilley, TX (current home to the largest family detention center), the experience was jarring and formative.
After this trip, No-No Boy eschewed traditional touring focusing instead on performing in spaces where this work can connect with audiences holding wide ranging points of view. Offering music and service, No-No Boy has continued to travel along the southern border working with a school for refugee children in Tijuana, serving as scholars/artists in residence in Shishmaref, Alaska, and collaborating with dozens of diverse organizations across North America.
No-No Boy has evolved into a project aimed at recovering difficult pasts, making connections across communities, and imagining better futures. Looking ahead, a second album 1975 is scheduled for release in early 2021 on the Smithsonian Folkways label. A dissertation will be submitted sometime around then as well.
"Two Candles In The Dark" featuring Erin Aoyama & Kishi Bashi from 1942.
"Heart Mountain" live with Emilia Halvorsen, Michelle Bazile & Noah Choi, 2017.
Dilley Texas, 2019. A research trip with Juan Betancourt and Diego Luis to the largest U.S. Family Detention Center.
Performing with Emilia Halvorsen + Hamilton Berry at the AC Institute, NYC, 2019. photo credit: David Moriya
Performing at the Holding Institute in Laredo, TX with Juan Betancourt translating for the audience, 2019. photo credit: Diego Luis