Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. A literary classic that has captured attention on the page—and screen—since its release 90 years ago in 1925. And now, thanks to groundbreaking, genre-bending band, Irie Sol, the book further comes to life through music.
Uniquely interweaving The Great Gatsby with “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” through five innovative tracks on their new album, Dred Scott Fitzgerald, Irie Sol has created a new hybrid art form: lit hop, or a novellalbum. Each lyric is a tessera that forms part of a narrative mosaic.
“In removing the borders between literature and music, we’re reimagining the novel as each song acts as a chapter in a new form of narrative fiction,” says Irie Sol band member, Dr. Joel Pace.
Last autumn, Grammy-Award winner Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) hosted Irie Sol at his studio, where they wrote and recorded this EP. Erupting out of the Twin Cities and Eau Claire, WI, with a musical blend that reflects diverse band members—who hail from the U.S., Jamaica and Brazil—Irie Sol delivers authentic Jamaican chat/DJing and soaring, soulful melodies backed by blazing bebop horns, wailing guitar, and tight drum and bass. The band has had the good fortune to share bills with The Wailers, Stephen Marley, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Sevendust, Quiet Riot, Bret Michaels, and Warrant.
Supported by Dr. Pace’s fusion of literature and music in the classroom and background as a Professor of English with a doctorate in English from Oxford University, Irie Sol brings to light a number of topics through Dred Scott Fitzgerald:
- “Lit Hop” and blurring lines in the arts: how the band is taking the emerging genre one step beyond
- Continuing the story of Bernice, the only female protagonist of color in a Fitzgerald work, where the eponymous short story leaves off
- Could Gatsby have been black? How the album acts as a musical iteration of this theory
- Focusing on the Harlem Renaissance and the black musicians that defined The Jazz Age, who are surprisingly left out of The Great Gatsby
- During a time of racial tension, Irie Sol encourages and exemplifies unity through music
- The oft-overlooked influence of the Midwest on the arts
“The Great Gatsby is considered the ultimate novel of The Jazz Age, yet African Americans are only mentioned in passing references, with Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance not even mentioned once,” adds Dr. Pace. “Through Dred Scott Fitzgerald, we restore jazz to the age and page, while also including the significant continuations of jazz today through reggae and hip hop.”
About Irie Sol
Erupting out of the Twin Cities and Eau Claire, WI with a musical blend that reflects the diversity of its band members—who hail from Kingston, Jamaica; Providence, RI; Chicago, IL; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN; and Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, WI—Irie Sol delivers authentic Jamaican chat/DJing and soaring, soulful melodies backed by blazing bebop horns, wailing guitar, and tight drum and bass. The band has shared bills with The Wailers, Stephen Marley, Morgan Heritage, The Meditations, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, John Munson of Semisonic, Tech N9ne, Sevendust, Quiet Riot, Bret Michaels, and Warrant.
About Dr. Joel Pace
Dr. Joel Pace got a crash course in hip hop by beatboxing, rapping, and breakdancing his way through childhood in the city of Providence, Rhode Island. His love of rhymes and rhythms earned him a BA in English and Music from Providence College and masters and doctorate from the University of Oxford, UK, where he was an active performer on the burgeoning jazz scene. After graduate school, he continued his research as a fellow of Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. Presently, he is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and Associate Editor of Symbiosis: A Journal of Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations.
Dred Scott Fitzgerald was released on September 24, 2015 and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and all other online music channels.