JJJJJerome Ellis

JJJJJerome Ellis (any pronoun) is a disabled animal, artist, and person who stutters. He prays, reads, gardens, cycles, surfs, and plays. Through music, text, performance, video, and photography he researches relationships among blackness, disabled speech, divinity, nature, sound, and time. Born in 1989 to Jamaican and Grenadian immigrants, he lives in Norfolk, Virginia, USA with his wife, ecologist-poet Luísa Black Ellis. He dreams of building a sonic bath house!

His body of work includes: contemplative soundscapes using saxophone, flute, dulcimer, electronics, and vocals; scores for plays and podcasts; albums combining spoken word with ambient and jazz textures; theatrical explorations involving live music and storytelling; and music-video-poems that seek to transfigure archival documents.

His debut album, The Clearing (2021), was called “an astonishing, must-listen project” (The Guardian). It was co-produced by NNA Tapes and The Poetry Project, and it was released with an accompanying book published by Wendy’s Subway. Poet/essayist/playwright Claudia Rankine said of the book: “The Clearing is many things: a lyrical celebration of and inquiry into the intersections of blackness, music, and disabled speech; a restless interrogation of linear time; an intimate portrait of the author’s real-time experience of his stutter; a baptism in syllable and sound; and a manuscript illuminated by The Stutter. At its core, Ellis’ metaphor of the clearing becomes a place of possibility and “momentary, transitory, glimpsed liberation.” He invites us to meet him there.” The Clearing won the 2022 Anna Rabinowitz Prize.

He has received a Fulbright Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Fellowship (2022), a Foundation for Contemporary Art Grants to Artists Award (2022), a Creative Capital Grant (2022). He has received residencies at MacDowell (2019, 2022), Ucross (2021), Lincoln Center Theater (2019), ISSUE Project Room (2021), and La MaMa (2021).

JJJJJerome’s solo and collaborative musical/performance work has been presented by Lincoln Center, The Poetry Project, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, WNYC, and ISSUE Project Room (New York); Venice Biennale 2023; Haus der Kunst (Munich); Rewire Festival (The Hague); Schauspielhaus Zürich; Chrysler Hall (Norfolk, Virginia); MASS MoCA (North Adams, Massachusetts); Arraymusic (Toronto); and the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), among others. His visual work (video and photography) has been presented by Oklahoma Contemporary (Oklahoma City), Juf (Madrid), Artspace New Haven (New Haven, Connecticut), and Ballroom Marfa (Marfa, Texas). He has received commissions from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, The Shed, and REDCAT.

He is a signed artist with NNA Tapes and is represented by Michaël Gardiner at Heavy Trip, Pascal Mungioli at Stay Service, and Ben Izzo at A3 Artists Agency. His work has been covered by His work has been covered by The Guardian, This American Life, Pitchfork, Artforum, Black Enso, and Christian Science Monitor.

He has been a lecturer in Sound Design at Yale University. He received a fabulous music education in the Virginia Beach public school system, and he continued his studies at Columbia University as an undergraduate.

JJJJJerome collaborates with James Harrison Monaco as James & Jerome. Their recent work explores themes of border crossing and translation through music-driven narratives. They have received commissions from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Ars Nova.