Black Music City announces grant recipients for 2023 - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

The Black Music City class of 2023 is here.

Now in its third year, the project — a collaboration between WXPN, WRTI, and REC Philly — is today announcing 30 grantees who are producing new creative creative work about Philadelphia’s Black music legacy. These winners were chosen from 390 applications, and are receiving grants ranging from $2000 to $5000, with the winning projects being revealed in a June 11th ceremony in Philadelphia during African American Music Appreciation Month.

24 of the grantees hail from Philadelphia proper, with one grantee from Elkins Park, two from Delaware, and three from New Jersey. The majority of the projects will result in music productions (either performances or recordings), video, and photography. But other artistic mediums are represented as well; painting, fashion, dance, AI, collage, dolls, and one graphic novel.

Seven grantees are previous Black Music City Recipients: Fareed Simpson-Hankins, who will produce a performance called Brass and Brotherly Love; Warren Oree, whose project is called Philadelphia’s Contribution to Hard Bop; Kimberly Camp, who is creating hand-crafted porcelain dolls inspired by the city’s music legacy; Zeek Burse, who is making a short film called Forbidden Fruit, A Love Story Told Through Songs; Wilma Shakesnider, who is making a video called Afro American Composers; Mz Icar, who is developing an augmented reality project called Heavy Distortion; and Keith Ora (aka Rashawn Frisby), who is making a multi-media project titled A Thousand Different Ways.

Looking beyond the people producing the projects, there are an array of Philly artists being honored; 22 of this years Black Music City recipients are focused on specific artists and their work, with two projects looking at the music of Billie Holiday, two projects celebrating the creativity of Tierra Whack, and various single projects centered around a range of others from Marian Anderson to Eve, Teddy Pendergrass to PNB Rock.

This year’s Black Music City grantees were chosen by a panel that includes WRTI’s Greg Bryant, WXPN’s John Morrison, attorney and scholar Timothy Welbeck, and singer-songwriters Seraiah Nicole, Laurin Talese, and Donn Thompson Morelli. Read the full list of winners below. For more, explore the Black Music City website, and stay tuned for further details on the June 11 event.

  • Kiana Williams, Philadelphia / The Evolution of Afrodance in Philadelphia: From West Africa to the Diaspora – Dance, Video
  • Shakira Hunt, Philadelphia / Soft Petals  – Photography, Film
  • Nashirah Felder (DJ NA$H), Philadelphia  / 2023 Juneteenth Festival – Special Event
  • Erica Hawkins, Philadelphia / 12 Gates to the City – Film
  • Drew Johnson, Philadelphia / Project Eve – Photo-Zine
  • Tito Orjih (Tito Ohh), Philadelphia / History and Legacy of the Kulu Mele Dance Ensemble (Mini Documentary) – Video
  • Elijah Rhea, Philadelphia / Put The Love On Wax – Special Event, Video, Photography
  • Fareed Simpson-Hankins, Philadelphia / Brass and Brotherly Love – Music Performance, Film
  • Rhonda Hall (Rahnda Rize), Elkins Park, PA / Sing A Black Girl’s Song  – Music, Poetry, Dance, Photography, Video
  • Cierra Jenkins (Cierra Jaye), Woodbury, NJ /An Ode to Change – Fashion/Apparel
  • Monica Thompson (Monica Monique), Philadelphia / Legacy in Lyrics – Fashion/Apparel
  • Warren Oree, Philadelphia / Philadelphia Contribution to Hard Bop – Performance
  • Doriana Diaz, Philadelphia / Sisters in Rhythm, A House of Our Own – Collages
  • Sheena Howard, Philadelphia / Marian Anderson Graphic Novel Short – Graphic Novel
  • Shonte Young, Claymont, DE / Big Whack – Painting, Augmented Reality
  • Kayla Childs (Black Buttafly), Philadelphia / Hip Hop Soul – Shirley Scott – Music Video
  • Pablo Batista, Philadelphia / The More I Get, the More I Want – Music Arrangement and Composition
  • Kimberly Camp, Collingswood, NJ / One-of-a-Kind Porcelain Dolls – Handcrafted Porcelain Dolls
  • Zeek Burse, Philadelphia / Forbidden Fruit, A Love Story Told Through Songs – Short Film
  • Chad Williams (Ceadda), Wilmington, DE / Strange Fruit – Blood on the Leaves – Painting, Digital Art, Apparel
  • Jacqueline Smith, Philadelphia / Sylk City Paradigms: A Tribute to King Britt – Performance, Recording
  • Michael Ta’Bon (OG Law), Philadelphia / My City Need LOVE  – Songwriting, Painting, Video
  • Julia Pratt, Philadelphia / Homecoming – Music Recording
  • Oronde Kairi, Philadelphia / The Sound of Philadelphia – Painting/Mural
  • Wilma Shakesnider, Audubon, NJ / Afro American Composers – Performance, Video
  • Dianne Thompson (Badd Kitti), Philadelphia / Life On Mars: The Cosmic Funk of Dexter Wansel – Composition, Performance, Music Video
  • Caliph Gamble, Philadelphia / Burn Baby Burn – Film
  • Mz Icar, Philadelphia / Heavy Distortion – Augmented Reality, Projection Mapping, Video
  • Rashawn Frisby (Keith Ora), Philadelphia / A Thousand Different Ways – Painting, Sewing, Photography, Video
  • Meech (Trey) Coachman, Philadelphia / World Been Whack? – Music

Lead support for Black Music City is provided by the Willliam Penn Foundation with additional support from Fulton Bank and Aqua.

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