Fred Ho (1957-2014) was a radical activist, writer, and groundbreaking musician best known for his developments in the field of Afro-Asian American music. After a childhood spent trying to assimilate to the white culture of his Massachusetts College town, Ho read the ideas of Malcolm X for the first time in high school and began forging his political consciousness around dismantling capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy. A self-taught saxophonist, Ho steadfastly sought to create an Asian American musical identity that was a true radical and multicultural synthesis, discrediting the label of “jazz” as a pejorative European label.
Ho’s music and lifestyle where intrinsically intertwined facets of his dedication to ecosocialism, matriarchy, indigeneity, and creativity. Over his short lifetime, Ho was a grassroots activist, community organizer, political theorist, and creator of several ground breaking Chinese American “jazz” operas and musical works. His projects were recognized and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. Ho was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 and spent his eight-year battle against the disease as a metaphoric lens to sharpen his political philosophies, discussed in his books Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior and Raw Extreme Manifesto.