For the conclusion of our 5- part series, Film @ The Carr Presents … “Jazz on Film” Curators and Co-hosts, Carr Center Resident Artist Juanita Anderson and Guest Curator, Marcus Turner Black music as inspiration and theme in dramatic storytelling.

The last film of the prestigious and well-received series will be, Songs For My Right Side,a film by Jeffrey C. Wray & Tama Hamilton-Wray (JazzyTam Films, USA, 2020)

In the film we meet Rodger Smith who is in pain and who has caused plenty of hurt. The fate of two recently encountered young black people occupy his thoughts. An undocumented West African longing for home crosses his path. Most of all, he wants his estranged wife Josephine to come back home. All the while, a mysterious pain takes over the right side of his body. Only music can soothe his troubled soul. 

Immediately following the screening will  be a liveIn between the co-hosts and  Director/Writer Jeffrey C. Wray, Producer Tama Hamilton-Wray, Composer Kris Johnson and  Singer/Songwriter Yellowkake.



Jeffrey C. Wray—director, Songs for My Right Side

Jeffrey C. Wray is a Professor of Film Studies and Timnick Chair in the Humanities at Michigan State University and an independent filmmaker. His recent films include Songs for My Right Side, a 2020 half-hour drama, BLAT! Pack Live, a 2016 music documentary, and The Evolution of Bert, a 2014 feature-narrative that premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival and was nominated for the Roger Ebert Award. Wray’s screenplays include The Soul Singer, a drama and 2018 Nicholl Academy Award Screenwriting Fellowship Quarterfinalist, and Eclipse, a political drama set in the turbulent summer of 1964. His 2018 essay “How Ella Mae Wray Seized the Opportunities of 1968” was published in The Atlantic.


Tama Lynne Hamilton-Wray, PhD—producer, Songs for My Right Side

Tama Hamilton-Wray is a scholar-practitioner who holds an associate professor position in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University and works as an independent filmmaker. Her research and teaching interests include Global African Cinema and Black feminist cultural production and theory, with specific scholarship focusing on the socially engaged artists including filmmakers Haile Gerima and Raoul Peck. Her recent publications is the co-edited volume, New Directions in the Study of the African Diaspora: Uncharted Theme and Alternative Representations (MSU Press, 2018) and her recent film is Songs for My Right Side (2020).



Kris Johnson-Composer, Songs for My Right SideKris Johnson is an award-winning trumpeter, composer, and educator. He has appeared on five Grammy-nominated albums and composed the original score for the four-time Emmy-nominated web series “King Ester”. Kris toured the world as a trumpeter and arranger with the Count Basie Orchestra from 2008-2019 and served as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah from 2015-2019. He is the creator and curator of the online educational series “Office Hours with Kris Johnson”. 

A 2012 Detroit Kresge Artist fellow, Kris was also the recipient of the 2012 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers award. Kris has been commissioned to write compositions and arrangements for the Count Basie Orchestra, Ken Thompkins (principal trombonist, Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Arts League of Michigan, Karen Clark Sheard, Yolanda Adams, the Clark Sisters, Detroit Symphony’s Civic Ensembles, as well as for a range of Metro Detroit community and high school bands.  He was recently commissioned by Plowshares Theater (Detroit, MI) in partnership with the Kresge Foundation to compose a musical influenced by Detroit’s historic Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods. Hastings Street: The Musical is currently in development with music/lyrics co-composed by Kris and playwright/actor John Sloan III who also wrote the book.

Yellokake—Singer/Songwriter, Songs for My Right SideYellokake (aka Jasmine Hamilton-Wray) is a singer/songwriter, sometimes screenwriter, and lifetime proof reader for Jeff Wray and Dr. Tama Hamilton-Wray. Originally from East Lansing, Michigan, she now works and lives in Washington, DC.  As a part of the music collective The BLAT! Pack and individually, Yellokake has performed all over Michigan, in Texas, and in Washington, DC. With her collective members she reserved space for live hip hop in the greater Lansing area.