Renegade Tiny Dorm: Joshuah Campbell

Renegade Tiny Dorm

Nov. 13, 2015




There's no need to explain why we need more spaces to highlight POC creativity.  Nor do we need to explain why we need more POC spaces in general.  In response, Renegade has decided to transform the way we conceptualize space at Harvard by bringing unregulated creativity into Harvard dorm rooms. We are calling it Tiny Dorm - inspired by NPR's Tiny Desk concerts, which you can check out here. For more information on Renegade Tiny Dorms, visit the Renegade Tiny Dorm website here.


This first Tiny Dorm concert features vocalist and songwriter Joshuah Campbell ’16, accompanied by pianist Alicia Young ’17. We would like to extend a special thank-you to Carlos Snaider and Cameron Clarke, our music and performance coordinators, for making this event a reality. We would also like to thank Zac Wong for filming the concert and editing the video, and all of the residents of our film location (Joshuah Campbell, Brian Ventura, and Noel Desaesilva) for offering their space to us.


And of course, thank you to our wonderful musicians, Joshuah and Alicia, for inspiring us with their gifts.  Below is an artist's statement from Joshuah:


I’m Joshuah Campbell and I share my hometown (Cheraw, SC) with Dizzy Gillespie, a man who shaped and changed ‘jazz’ as we know it. I’m a Black Christian church boy at heart, but right now I’m studying French (not the language) and music (that’s not French) and figuring out what liberation means. I want to sing and act for the rest of my life and it’s really, really complicated. 

The march song came out of sort of a place of shock that I was marching for something on Harvard’s campus in the year 2014. Nina Simone said in an interview once that she wrote protest songs because they were ‘needed’ and that she would stop singing love songs until the protest songs weren’t needed anymore. While I write and sing more than just protest songs (and I am by no means prolific with regard to writing), and while I have many thoughts about artistic responsibility, I felt like the march just needed to be hammered out in that way. The lyrics are a mental revision from written lyrics I lost a year ago, so perhaps the sensibilities have change. Had I written it yesterday, they would have been different still. I think maybe, if the song has a future, they change shift and be modified in that way. The Rainin’ song also came after a protest day, the Primal Scream one I believe, when it was raining and that symbolism just struck me for whatever reason. These lyrics are also revised for the reason I mentioned above. 

More broadly, though, I think as people who experience oppression on many if not every plane of our existence, any productivity—anytime we think, write, do, breathe, move our bodies toward creating something hopefully good—is protest in and of itself. That’s why second two tunes are there. I guess I differ from Nina in thinking that black love under these crazy conditions is protest, too. 

I get kind of weak now when I have to engage with everything that’s going on now because I honestly hurt so bad over it. But I will just say, I couldn’t have imagined and would never have hoped that my work would be even more relevant two weeks after it was recorded than it was the day of the recording, or a year ago when I first had the idea to put pen to paper. 

My necklace was made by my dear friend and spiritual mentor, Bolaji Ogunsola. I call it my ‘resistance necklace,’ and I honestly feel better when I wear it because of the hands that made it. Find her on Instagram at @designsbybolaji and at Support art of color! 

Thank you to Kimiko and Jenny for editing, not just Renegade, but our lives in special and amazing and gentle and thoughtful ways. Alicia, thanks for being just such a gracious person to be around and work with. Also, thanks to Eden Girma (practically my little sister) and Laila Smith for holding my hand through some tough moments I’ve had with music and life this year. They are the singers I want to be when I grow up. And thanks to my mom and dad and brother for letting do this crazy thing called ‘music’ and for having more faith in me than I have in myself. 


And thank you to this project for validating and bolstering my faith in solidarity among people of color. We gon’ be alright. 


(songs are original unless noted)

March Song (Sing out, Fight on) 


One More Time

I Can’t Make You Love Me/Tears of a Clown (Reid, Shamblin, Bonnie Raitt/Wonder, Cosby, Smokie Robinson & the Miracles)