ASK YOUR MAMA is Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman’s multimedia setting of Langston Hughes’ epic 1961 poem, “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.”

ASK YOUR MAMA bursts the boundaries of time, place and expression, tracing the currents and tributaries of cultural diasporas, from Africa to the Americas, the South to the North, cities to suburbs, opera to jazz, spirituals to be-bop to hip-hop. It is an ‘Ivesian collage with club-culture remixing’ (New York Times) and a plural vision of the American dream deferred.

Karpman fulfills Hughes’ musical instructions, which run in the margins of the poetry, evoking cool jazz, German lieder, cha-cha, patriotic songs, post-bop, Arabic music, Afro-Caribbean drumming, and weaves a compelling tapestry of American cultural life through the lens of 21st-century orchestral, genre-bending music.