Ann Delisi: BLKBOK talks Juneteenth, latest album and more at Willis Show Bar

In 2023, the Detroit native released his second solo album and hosted the first of what he says will be an annual Juneteenth celebration in the city.

Detroit native BLKBOK released his second studio album, "9," in September 2023.

Detroit native BLKBOK released his second studio album, "9," in September 2023.

Neoclassical pianist and Detroiter BLKBOK had a big year in 2023.

A former touring musician with major artists like John Mayer, Justin Timberlake and Rihanna, he released his second full-length solo album in September, and over the summer hosted the first of what he says will become an annual Juneteenth celebration in Detroit.

I joined him on stage at the inaugural commemorative event and benefit for WDET, which took place June 20, 2023 at Willis Show Bar in Detroit. During our 45-minute discussion, the former child prodigy spoke about everything from his musical influences and earliest experiences connecting to others through his music, to the difficulties of touring and the release of his latest album, 9, which pays homage to the Little Rock Nine.

Listen: Full conversation with BLKBOK and Ann Delisi at Willis Show Bar in Detroit

BLKBOK also pays tribute to Juneteenth — our newest federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S. — on the album’s last track, “What is Truth,” which he says was inspired by a bird’s song.

“I heard this bird sing this melody, and it became the melody for the chorus of this piece,” he said. “I felt like it was a message saying…the bird was asking me the question, ‘what is truth?’ And the piece just kind of grew legs from that point.”

Hear the full interview using the media player above.

Listen to Ann Delisi’s Essential Music Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET and Sundays 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

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  • Ann Delisi
    Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.