Cycles of My Being is a song cycle that centers on what it means to be an African American man living in America today. The cycle was composed by pianist-percussionist Tyshawn Sorey, with lyrics by the award-winning poet Terrance Hayes, both of whom are MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Winners, and was co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited.
Of the creation of the cycle, Brownlee said “The idea started with the injustices we see on a daily basis. We’ve summed it up as being about ‘black male subjectivity.'” Brownlee went on, “It was important for me to do this. I’ve been 20 years as an artist, establishing a career. This was an opportunity to do more of a passion project."