This year’s Academy Awards is notable for its record number of Black nominees, and among them is composer Kris Bowers.
While you may not know the name, you certainly know his scores. He’s composed the music for Netflix favorite Bridgerton, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and all four episodes of Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-nominated series When They See Us. It’s for that reason, the director didn’t hesitate to executive produce Bowers’ own film which is nominated for Best Documentary – Short Subject at this year’s Academy Awards.
“He’s young, he’s vibrant, he’s incredibly talented,” DuVernay told ESSENCE at the time Bowers was just an Oscar-nominee hopeful. “He’s someone that I worked with and I was just like, “God, I want everything for him. I want everything that he wants to happen.”
What Bowers wanted when he came to DuVernay was support for his 13-minute documentary, A Concerto is a Conversation, which centers around a talk with his grandfather, Horace Bowers, about the life he built for his family as an entrepreneur after leaving the Jim Crow South.
“It was so moving to me — so subtle and so powerful,” DuVernay said of the film. “He asked if I would support it and I’m really proud to be the executive producer of this film.”
While the short undoubtedly resonated with audiences across the board who could see the sacrifices of their own parents and grandparents in those of Horance, DuVernay felt a particular draw to the film.
“I’m very connected to elders, Black elders, whether it’s Prosper on Queen Sugar, whether it’s Cicely Tyson on Cherish the Day, whether it’s whoever,” she said. “I’m always looking at what the older people are doing. I’m very connected to my grandmother who’s in her late 80s and this conversation Kris has with his grandfather is just extraordinary. The filmmaking is beautiful.”
The 93rd Academy Awards will air at 8pm ET