Kathryn Bostic’s music on Broadway and in award-winning films highlights her unique and innovative voice as a prolific composer, songwriter and accomplished pianist. Her most recent film, “Dear White People,” premiered in the Sundance 2014 Film Festival and is among the top nominees for the 46th annual NAACP Image Awards.
“The music is like a spine to the film: it helps it to have a cohesive quality,” explained Bostic. “The music helps to kind of keep it going, and maintains a sonic continuum, and it’s also a great way of emotionally enhancing the story and the characters. ... It is definitely very helpful to be able to create what you are hearing in your head, and so the film scoring to me is just another layer of storytelling that I wanted to be able to do, because I love the process of collaborating with people, whether it’s film, theater, dance — I find it to be very engaging. Working with filmmakers is such an extraordinary opportunity to deal with the visual component, the emotional — and you’ve got all of this visceral possibility. I love films, and as a film composer I like to be able to collaborate with the director and find sort of the sonic pulse, the sonic backbone and telling the story, and how can the music serve that storytelling. How can the musical element, the musical component serve to further enhance that story.”
Bostic was born into a legacy of women musicians.
“All of the women on my mother’s side for generations to come were musicians, piano players and singers — I think it is just part of my DNA,” said the artist, laughing. “I think I just came in this way. I remember writing songs and singing when I was three years old and I was playing the piano. My mother was a classical pianist and she also taught piano lessons, so there was always that element going on in our household. I would just sit at the piano and write these little songs and just kind of get in this creative mode, so that was all-consuming, and that was my little paradise. I will say that I have an innate ability and appreciation for music.”
She has receivedmany fellowships and awards, including the prestigious Sundance Fellowship for Feature Film Scoring, BMI Conducting Fellowship, and a 2013 Sundance Fellowship for Documentary Film Scoring that took place at the renowned Skywalker Ranch.
“They are life-changing and they are very affirming so far as just letting you know to keep doing what you’re doing,” said Bostic of the enhanced learning opportunities. “And they provide such a great community of people who have similar vision and also bring their own unique artistry to the table. I would say that both of those fellowships definitely have helped need to sustain and maintain my focus and passion as a film composer.”
In addition to her work in film, Bostic has written for Broadway, most notably collaborating with the award-winning playwright August Wilson on “Gem of the Ocean,” and various productions of his last play, “Radio Golf.” Bostic, who is one of two African-American women composing for film and TV, believes the door is open for creative opportunity.
“I do think that there is definitely in the film-scoring community, and in mainstream film and TV, indeed it is primarily men, and it is primarily white men, but that is not to say that there are not women of color and women of the multicultural background out here composing and storytelling and writing,” said Bostic. “I think with me, you know life is so organic: It is something that you have your intention to be self-expressive — that is just a fundamental instinct I have always had to be self-expressive musically. In terms of how that is going to work as lifestyle and livelihood, I am still figuring that out, actually — I am still working on it — but I would say first and foremost to just keep being true to yourself. Be authentic in who you are and what you do and seek out relationships that you want to cultivate that provide that kind of inspiration, magic and passion for you. you want to really be able to have a complete awareness of how passionate you are about who you are and what you want to do with that. For me, music has always been what I’ve been very passionate about, and it is an integral part of who I am.”
“Dear White People” will be released on both Blu-ray and DVD by Lionsgate in January. Kathryn Bostic’s score album to “Dear White People” is now available on Lakeshore Records digitally via iTunes. The 46th annual NAACP Image Awards will be handed out Feb. 6 in a ceremony telecast live by TV One.