PHILADELPHIA (NOVEMBER 21, 2022): A search for five emerging Black Americana musicians who will have the opportunity to hone their artistic and professional pursuits during a unique artist development residency is launching today through a partnership between Philadelphia public radio music station WXPN and The Black Opry, a platform for Black musicians and Black fans of country, blues, folk and Americana music. Artists are encouraged to apply for the Black Opry Residency through December 21, which will take place in Philadelphia during March 2023!
In its ongoing commitment to discovering and supporting new artists, WXPN saw a clear need for creating the artist development project. “This creative residency seeks to help change the situation in which, despite their considerable contributions, Black Americana artists can still be overlooked,” said Holly G, Founder and Co-Director of The Black Opry. Executive Producer Bruce Warren, WXPN Assistant General Manager for Programming said, “It is designed to nurture new talent and support careers in a way that goes beyond airplay, interviews, in-studio sessions, and festival performances.”
During their residency week in Philadelphia, the five up-and-coming musicians will be immersed in mentor sessions with respected experts, songwriting and song sharing, studio sessions and recordings, and educational and community engagement workshops. A public Finale Performance will highlight residents’ new work individually as well as their collective artistic talents, and a podcast will chronicle the project and the participants’ creative processes.
“Our mission is to connect artists with audiences, and WXPN is widely recognized and credited with discovering and supporting new artists,” said WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay. “Our goals for the Black Opry Residency are to expand the opportunities and audiences for emerging Black artists who are working to redefine their place in the American musical canon.”
Americana integrates traditional roots music genres, including country, bluegrass, folk, blues, gospel, alternative country, and singer-songwriter. Americana music has long been an integral part of WXPN programming, and is also spotlighted through its weekly Americana Music Hour program.
WXPN highlights new artists through ongoing programming that includes the “Artist To Watch” feature which, for the past 20 years, has spotlighted up-and-coming performers with a combination of on-air promotion and online features to help audiences deepen their discovery of each artist. Station-produced events such as the annual three-day XPoNential Music Festival also present a variety of established and emerging artists, with the 2022 edition featuring performances by Black Americana artists Black Opry Revue, Valerie June, Bartees Strange and Buffalo Nichols.
Support for the new Black Opry Residency is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.
More information and artist applications for the residency can be made at xpn.org through December 21, 2022.