PHILADELPHIA (MARCH 9, 2023): The Black Music City project is awarding a total of $125,000 in grant amounts of between $2,000 and $5,000 each to 30 Black creatives in the greater Philadelphia area, it was announced today. This is the largest amount of funds awarded to date by the annual Black Music City project. Now in its third year, the project has also increased individual grant amounts from the previous award range of $1,000 to $3,500 each.

Black Music City provides financial and promotional support to local Black artists, musicians and other creatives to produce new artistic works that honor the influence of Philadelphia’s legendary Black music heritage. All new works are created within an approximate three-month production period, and will be revealed during a special event planned for June 11 in Philadelphia during African American Music Appreciation Month that will celebrate the grant winners.

A total of 390 applications were received for the 2023 grants. The final list of 30 grant recipients was determined by the Black Music City Selection Committee, composed of:

Greg Bryant – radio host, writer and jazz musician

● Seraiah Nicole – performing vocalist and spoken word artist

● Laurin Talese – performing vocalist and songwriter

● Donn Thompson Morelli (“Donn T”) – singer-songwriter and president, The Recording Academy – Philadelphia Chapter

● John Morrison – music journalist and radio host

● Timothy Welbeck – attorney, professor of African American Studies, hip-hop artist

Seraiah Nicole, who also serves as the project host, said, “We can’t wait for everyone to see the many ways in which these artists are so creatively honoring the breadth and persistent influence of Philadelphia’s rich Black music history.”

The 2023 grant winners’ projects honor a wide range of persons or styles encompassing decades of Philadelphia music, from Marian Anderson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Tierra Whack and PnB Rock.

These are the 30 2023 Black Music City grant winners, their new artistic projects and grant amounts:

● Kiana Williams, Philadelphia / The Evolution of Afrodance in Philadelphia: From West Africa to the Diaspora ($5,000) – Dance, Video

● Shakira Hunt, Philadelphia / Soft Petals ($3,500) – Photography, Film

● Nashirah Felder (DJ NA$H), Philadelphia / 2023 Juneteenth Festival ($5,000) – Special Event

● Erica Hawkins, Philadelphia / 12 Gates to the City ($4,700) – Film

● Drew Johnson, Philadelphia / Project Eve ($4,500) – Photo-Zine

● Tito Orjih (Tito Ohh), Philadelphia / History and Legacy of the Kulu Mele Dance Ensemble (Mini Documentary) ($5,000) – Video

● Elijah Rhea, Philadelphia / Put The Love On Wax ($5,000) – Special Event, Video, Photography

● Fareed Simpson-Hankins, Philadelphia / Brass and Brotherly Love ($5,000) – Music Performance, Film

● Rhonda Hall (Rahnda Rize), Elkins Park, PA / Sing A Black Girl’s Song ($4,000) – Music, Poetry, Dance, Photography, Video

● Cierra Jenkins (Cierra Jaye), Woodbury, NJ /An Ode to Change ($5,000) – Fashion/Apparel

● Monica Thompson (Monica Monique), Philadelphia / Legacy in Lyrics ($4,000) – Fashion/Apparel

● Warren Oree, Philadelphia / Philadelphia Contribution to Hard Bop ($4,500) – Performance

● Doriana Diaz, Philadelphia / Sisters in Rhythm, A House of Our Own ($4,000) – Collages

● Sheena Howard, Philadelphia / Marian Anderson Graphic Novel Short ($5,000) – Graphic Novel

● Shonte Young, Claymont, DE / Big Whack ($2,000) – Painting, Augmented Reality

● Kayla Childs (Black Buttafly), Philadelphia / Hip Hop Soul – Shirley Scott ($3,700) – Music Video

● Pablo Batista, Philadelphia / The More I Get, the More I Want ($5,000) – Music Arrangement and Composition

● Kimberly Camp, Collingswood, NJ / One-of-a-Kind Porcelain Dolls ($5,000) – Handcrafted Porcelain Dolls

● Zeek Burse, Philadelphia / Forbidden Fruit, A Love Story Told Through Songs ($5,000) – Short Film

● Chad Williams (Ceadda), Wilmington, DE / Strange Fruit – Blood on the Leaves ($3,500) – Painting, Digital Art, Apparel

● Jacqueline Smith, Philadelphia / Sylk City Paradigms: A Tribute to King Britt ($3,000) – Performance, Recording

● Michael Ta’Bon (OG Law), Philadelphia / My City Need LOVE ($3,000) – Songwriting, Painting, Video

● Julia Pratt, Philadelphia / Homecoming ($5,000) – Music Recording

● Oronde Kairi, Philadelphia / The Sound of Philadelphia ($3,000) – Painting/Mural

● Wilma Shakesnider, Audubon, NJ / Afro American Composers ($3,500) – Performance, Video

● Dianne Thompson (Badd Kitti), Philadelphia / Life On Mars: The Cosmic Funk of Dexter Wansel ($3,500) – Composition, Performance, Music Video

● Caliph Gamble, Philadelphia / Burn Baby Burn ($5,000) – Film

● Mz Icar, Philadelphia / Heavy Distortion ($4,600) – Augmented Reality, Projection Mapping, Video

● Rashawn Frisby (Keith Ora), Philadelphia / A Thousand Different Ways ($3,500) – Painting, Sewing, Photography, Video

● Meech (Trey) Coachman, Philadelphia / World Been Whack? ($4.500) – Music

Each of the 2023 Black Music City grant recipients are also receiving a free, one-year membership to REC Philly ($599 value).

Black Music City was established in late 2020 as a collaboration between Philadelphia public music radio stations WXPN-FM and WRTI-FM, and REC Philly, a place for creators. The project distributed $48,000 in grants to 23 creatives in its first year (2021), and $90,000 in grants to 46 creatives in 2022.

More information about Black Music City is available at

Follow and share using #blackmusiccity.

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About Black Music City
Launched in December 2020 in Philadelphia, PA, Black Music City is a project designed to honor Philadelphia’s rich Black music history by inspiring and supporting today’s Black creatives. Black Music City is a collaboration between WXPN-FM, the non-commercial music radio service of the University of Pennsylvania; WRTI-FM, the non-commercial music radio service of Temple University; and REC Philly, an ecosystem that empowers independent creators. In its first year, Black Music City awarded $48,000 in grants to 23 local Black creatives, and awarded 46 creatives with a total of $90,000 in grants in 2022. Primary support is from the William Penn Foundation, with additional support from Fulton Bank and Aqua.

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