Listen to My Heartbeat

Gentrification, go-go music, and politics interweave as a Washington, D.C. community fights for its humanity, its voice, and its heartbeat.

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Funding Initiative
Diversity Development Fund
Open Call
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Nyjia July

Nyjia is a Washington, D.C. native. After attending University of the Arts, she became a CPB Diversity Fellow and worked as a field producer on numerous docuseries. Her first documentary, JustUs, examines generational imprisonment. Her second documentary, Listen to My Heartbeat, looks at D.C.’s  gentrification through the gaze of the city’s Show more folkloric music, Go-Go. Show less

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Trevite Willis

Trevite Willis is a co-executive producer on the Sundance 2023 film, To Live and Die and Die and Live, and was an executive producer on the Sundance 2020 award-winning film, Forty Year Old Version. She has produced seven feature films, including Cargo, Blood Bound, and Children of God which won 17 awards and sold in 24 territories.

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The Film

Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, go-go music has thumped through Washington, D.C.—a political epicenter whose residents beyond Capitol Hill have long battled socioeconomic disparity and fought to have their voice heard. Go-go is an American folkloric tradition that blends elements of the African diasporic sound including funk, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and call-and-response storytelling. Amid ongoing gentrification, crackdowns on go-go culture by city officials have increased, motivating popular go-go bands like TOB to embrace their role as community advocates as they fight the erasure of Black people and culture through their music.

In Listen to My Heartbeat, gentrification, go-go music, and politics interweave when TOB and community organizer and school board member Trayon White usher viewers through a changing district. Trayon is running for city council in the poorest section of Washington, D.C., the last to be gentrified. He grew up on go-go, and often works with the go-go community to help inform and motivate an increasingly disenfranchised area. Trayon often finds himself at the intersection of music and activism, running interference between politicians, police, Black residents, gangs, and developers who have open wallets and untold power. This is the story of a community fighting for its humanity, its voice, and its heartbeat.