Jasmine Rivera

JasmineRivera Jasmine Rivera_1ABOUT THE ARTIST

Jasmine Rivera is a director, writer, producer, and actor from Detroit, Michigan. As a filmmaker she has written, directed and produced media via her production company Anawim Productions, which she founded as a professional artistic collective with a mission to produce advocacy media for non-profit and community organizations dedicated to social justice. Jasmine has directed four narrative films, including her latest, Nain Rouge, and she is currently working on her fifth, American Prophet, set in 1968 Detroit as part of a feature-length film. Jasmine is the recipient of the Loreen Arbus Scholarship from the New York Women in Film and Television Organization and was a Junior Professional Media Fellow at the United Nations University. A recipient of numerous national and international festival awards for her films, Jasmine earned her Masters in Fine Arts in Film Directing at Columbia University in the City of New York and serves on the faculty at Wayne State University as an adjunct professor of film.

To see more work by Jasmine Rivera, visit www.anawimproductions.com.

Top Right Photo Credit: Corine Vermeulen

Date/Time Event Category
Apr 9th
7:00 pm-9:00 pm
"Voices of Detroit: The Music of American Prophet" Film/Theater Artist


Voices of Detroit: The Music of American Prophet is a collaborative project that celebrates the combined power of imagery and music to tell stories that move audiences and inspire change. Set against the backdrop of Jasmine Rivera’s newest film American Prophet, eminent Detroit-based choirs and musicians will perform excerpts from the film’s score in addition to the songs that inspired the writing of the film’s story.

Set in 1968 Detroit, American Prophet tells the true story of Thomas Gumbleton, a young man suddenly appointed to a position of great authority in a time of upheaval and change. As the United States’ newest and youngest Roman Catholic bishop, Thomas is faced with a city filled with uncertainty and a community divided by anger. When the Archdiocese begins to desegregate the Detroit parochial schools, backlash from the churches turns into angry protests, forcing Thomas to stand his ground despite opposition from parishioners and fellow priests.

Audiences will experience a preview trailer of the film, view behind the scenes glimpses of principal photography shot in December of 2014, and watch a live concert recording of the film’s soundtrack by composer Steve Sholtes. In addition to new works, the Black Catholic Ministries Choir, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit Singers, and Motown Legends Gospel Choir will perform 1968-era hymns and spirituals from the rich songbook of the American gospel music tradition.


Voices of Detroit: The Music of American Prophet exemplifies the community-based philosophy behind my work. My films explore the Detroit experience through research, the gathering of oral histories, and conversations with individuals which culminate in the creation of a story that places audience members within the lived experiences of real people.

Set in 1968, my latest film American Prophet tells the true story of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a local Detroit peacemaker and social justice advocate. The film centers not only on Tom’s growth but also on the fight to desegregate the Roman Catholic churches of Detroit, which caused intense backlash from parishioners determined to keep members of the Black Catholic community away from parishes and schools.

For Voices of Detroit, excerpts of the film are presented alongside performances by choirs with selections from the film’s soundtrack by composer Steve Sholtes. African-American spirituals provide context for the film’s setting in the Black churches of Detroit while the film’s instrumentals, inspired by both traditional church hymnals and rock innovations of the late Sixties, take on the story’s themes of the tension between the sacred, rarefied world of the church versus the harsh struggles of the outside world in 1968.

As the recently shot film is still in its editing stage, the soundtrack excerpts heard are largely inspired by the story and mood of the visuals, rather than set to the specific cues of a picture-locked cut of the film. Voices of Detroit is a glimpse into the work in progress of the making of a film, from musical inspiration during development to its refinement in post-production.

Though regarded by many to be a solely visual art, film reaches its full potential when combined with music and audio, leading to an immersive experience for audiences who respond not just to framing and light but to the visceral pull of melody and sound. In choosing to screen my work alongside these musicians’ performances, I hope to present to audiences the essential collaborative nature of filmmaking, refuting the concept of the film auteur deserving of sole credit while emphasizing the director’s task of keeping a unified vision of the story and its telling and simultaneously working with other artists to achieve that vision.

Many members of the Detroit community have been key in the creation of American Prophet, and by presenting work that both visually and musically embodies their history, struggles and hopes for a just world, I hope to honor their contributions and bring their voices to the forefront for new audiences to hear.


CutTime Simfonica is one of two outreach ensembles founded by bassist/composer Rick Robinson while he was a 22-year member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). Inspired to share classical music far beyond the walls of Orchestra Hall, Robinson has arranged 100 famous symphonic works and composed a dozen adventurous works for his ensembles to perform in churches and schools, and now in restaurants, bars and clubs as part of the Classical Revolution Detroit series. Robinson won a Kresge Fellowship in 2010 for his compositions, which feature romantic textures and often familiar urban pop and folk influences to draw new listeners to classical devices. Robinson resigned DSO in 2013 to commit to audience development and now guest musicians rotate into Simfonica. The website is cuttime.com.
The Cuttime Simfonica musicians are Judith Teasdle (violin I), Sherri Martila (violin II), John Marttila (viola) and Rick Robinson (bass).

Augustus Hill (conductor) is the Artistic Director of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale, one of the oldest African-American choral organizations in the country. In its 37th season of providing enriching performances, the chorale is committed to the mission of its founder, Dr Brazeal W. Dennard, who has retired to emeritus status. That mission is to remember, discover, preserve, and share the Negro spiritual as a part of the artistic community, and to rediscover and perform significant choral works by African-American composers. The chorale is especially proud of its rôle in the development of the Classical Roots Concert Series with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Through these annual concerts, African-American contributions to the classical tradition are brought to life in the performance of orchestral works by African-American composers.

Mosaic SingersA national model for youth development through the arts, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit provides an artistic home for hundreds of young actors, singers, and stage technicians each year. Led by Associate Artistic Director and Director of Music Delashea Strawder, the Mosaic Singers have performed with Aretha Franklin, Al Green, The Temptations, and Sweet Honey in the Rock and have toured all-youth performances across the country, including the Kennedy Center and internationally on four different continents. They have represented the United States at the World Festival of Children’s Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, performed at The Millennium Dome in London England, and participated in cultural exchanges with Dakar, Senegal and Singapore. InJune of 2014, the Mosaic Singers won four gold and silver medals at the World Choir Games in Lithuania, competing against adult choirs from around the world and ranking fourth in the world in choral gospel performance.

Motown LegendsMotown Legends Gospel Choir is one of the most eminent gospel choirs in the Detroit metropolitan area, founded in 2008 by Director Albert Chisholm, lead singer for Joe Billingslea’s Contours. The choir consists of many past and present Motown artists and has performed at a variety of events in various cities and states across the country, bringing audiences to their feet with praise. This tight vocal ensemble has varied concert programs with many guest appearances including Joe Billingslea’s Contours, EJ Johnson, lead vocalist of Enchantment, the original Vandellas and Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Joan Belgrave, among others. The choir sings with these “Legendary Motown Artists” at prestigious concert halls and prominent historic churches across America, an amazing ensemble of angelic voices to touch the hearts and spirits of people across the

Black Catholic ChoirBlack Catholic Ministries Gospel Choir of the Archdiocese of Detroit was formed in the 1980s to share the gospel message to all communities through the African culture. The choir is committed to prayer and the transforming power that is in songs of prayer and praise with a call to lead brothers and sisters toward Christ using the universal language of music. Led by director John Thorne, the ministry continues to evolve to deliver the vibrant, exciting and unique approach to religious music that has become their unique Detroit signature.

Steve Sholtes is a multifaceted composer and “sound guy” based in metro Detroit, whose recent exploits include the score to the Kopera Brothers’ award winning horror-comedy The Cabining (2014), an ongoing songwriting partnership with French popstar Melissa Mars which yielded a featured spot on Coca-Cola’s world music compilation 52 Songs of Happiness, and recording and producing the album Urban Paradise with Detroit garage rockers The Vonneguts. He splits his time between being in the studio and on-set, enjoying both the solitary work of creating music and sound design for shorts and features as well as the hustle and bustle of working with actors, film crews, and upcoming musical artists of all styles. Steve previously worked with American Prophet director Jasmine Rivera on her award-winning short film Nain Rouge (2011) as the sound mixer and designer. He’s excited to add his other talents into the mix on her latest project.

Keir Ward (composer, music director) began his career at Epiphany Catholic Church as the Minister of Music at 15 years of age. After the closing of Epiphany, he was offered an opportunity to do gospel music at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, where Bishop Tom Gumbleton was pastor. The two formed a quick and lasting bond and an authentic black catholic worship experience was born from this collaboration. Keir was Minister of Music at St. Leo’s for 25 years and is a recording artist who has worked with national and international acclaimed recording artists including: The Contours, The Vandellas, The Shirelles, John P. Kee, Salt of the Earth, and Vicki Winans. Keir has written and composed many works including a mass, Mass of St. Leo-Detroit. Currently Keir is the Music Director for several choirs including: The Motown Legends Gospel Choir, The Black Catholic Ministries Gospel Choir, and The Ward Family Singers, the last group being comprised of his wife and children. Keir’s love and profound respect for Bishop Gumbleton inspired the song, American Prophet, that features himself and his son, Coleman Ward, on lead vocals. The song is a blessing for all those that continue to work for social justice in the City of Detroit.

Malaya WatsonMalaya Watson is 17-year-old recording artist from Southfield, Michigan. She originally rose to fame after gaining millions of views on her covers of popular songs on the social media app, Vine.  Summer of 2013 at age 15, Malaya auditioned for the 13th season of the popular TV show, American Idol. Malaya instantly won over the hearts of America with her huge range, ability to connect with the audience and her fun personality.  She earned eighth place finish, becoming the second youngest Top Ten Finalist in American Idol history.  The summer of 2014, Malaya took part in the 40 cities and Canada American Idol Live! Tour.  Malaya has a unique sound and she describes her music as “Old-Soul with modern sound”.  She recently released two of her debut singles “Worth It All” and “Drown”, freely available on SoundCloud.   She was born into a musical family with her father being a musician as well. As her passion for music strengthened, she joined the Michigan Opera Theater Children’s Choir.  Later, she then joined the Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit where she truly bloomed into the songstress and performer we know today.