30 Philly-Area Black Creatives are Awarded Artistic Grants by Black Music City Project
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The Black Music City project today announced that it has selected thirty Black creatives in the greater Philadelphia area to receive grants of between $1,500 and $5,000 each. The grants will fund the creation of new artistic works that honor the influence of Philadelphia’s legendary Black music heritage.

Honoring a wide range of persons or styles from decades of Philadelphia music – from Bessie Smith to Bilal to Philly Word hip-hop magazine – the 30 new creations will be showcased in June during African American Music Appreciation Month.

Black Music City received 717 applications for a total of $134,500 in available grants, which is the highest number of applications received in the four-year history of the project. The process of reviewing the applications and determining the 30 grantees was conducted by the Black Music City Selection Committee, composed of:

  • Samantha Rise – singer-songwriter, activist, Pew fellow and Black Opry Residency grant recipient
  • Greg Bryant – radio host, writer and jazz musician
  • Seraiah Nicole – performing vocalist and spoken word artist
  • Laurin Talese – performing vocalist and songwriter
  • John Morrison – music journalist and radio host
  • Chill Moody – performer, entrepreneur, Philadelphia Music Ambassador

“We saw the enormous impact of Philadelphia’s Black music history and its ongoing importance in reviewing the grant applications,” said Selection Committee Member Seraiah Nicole, who also serves as the project host. “The selected artists’ new projects will really help illuminate this abundant resource and its many contributions to our culture.”

2024 Black Music City grant winners and their new artistic projects are:

  • Aaron Fisher (No Sir E), Wilmington, DE: Black Beats Workshop: An Evening with Rucyl Frison. Live performance project honoring multimedia artist and producer Rucyl Frison
  • Aaron Love (Anyabwile Love), Philadelphia: A Sit Down With Coltrane. Photo/video project honoring saxophonist, composer and bandleader John Coltrane
  • Amari Johnson (Amari Rebel), Philadelphia: Alter-Destiny: the Soular Rock Family Reunion. Live performance project inspired by Sun Ra
  • Andrea Spruill, Bristol, PA: The Flow of Jazz & More. Photo/video project honoring Homer Jackson, founder of the Philadelphia Jazz Project
  • Antoinette (Toni) Kersey, Springfield, PA: Gospel, Jazz and Rhythm and Blues. Physical art project honoring gospel singer Clara Ward, jazz organist Shirley Scott, and studio musicians MFSB
  • Caliph Gamble, Philadelphia: Soul Session with Bilal. Photo/video project honoring progressive soul singer Bilal
  • Dianne Thompson (Badd Kitti), Philadelphia: Cosmic Funk Odyssey: Journey to Blacktronica. Audio project honoring electronic music pioneers Dexter Wansel, James Mtume and King Britt
  • Donn Thompson Morelli(Donn T), Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Sensei: Lovett Hines. Photo/video project honoring music educator Lovett Hines
  • Duwenavue Johnson (Duwenavue), Philadelphia: Al B.Blue. Physical art project honoring blues artists Al B. Blue
  • Eric Ockimey (OckTheWizard), Philadelphia: Glare of the Gods 2.0. Photo/video project honoring various musicians, songwriters, music journalists, DJs, and producers in the Greater Philadelphia Area
  • Erica Jones (E. Lizé), Wilmington, DE: Dee Dee Sharp. Physical art project honoring singer Dee Dee Sharp
  • Fawziyya Chandler (Fawziyya Heart), Philadelphia: A Day in Philly. Audio project honoring R&B duo McFadden & Whitehead
  • Grier Spry (Miss G), Philadelphia: Sounds of Philly AR Filter. Physical art project honoring various Philly music artists
  • Jerel Kala-Kadima (VisualsByKala), Upper Darby, PA: Love Musiq. Photo/video project honoring singer/songwriter Musiq Soulchild
  • Jessica Innis (Shauna Moon), Ewing, NJ: For Her Ears Only. Physical art project honoring the female Philadelphia artists who have impacted the music scene and continue to push boundaries
  • Jos Duncan Asé, Philadelphia: Lessie Sprurlock and the Spurlock Opera Company. Photo/video project honoring the Lessie Spurlock Opera Company
  • Joshua Meekins, Westampton, NJ: Disruptors in the Culture. Audio project honoring selected Philadelphia artists’ musical expressions and innovations
  • Karen Moore, Philadelphia: Packin Up the Marion Williams Story. Live performance project honoring gospel singer Marion Williams
  • Kenny Wooten, Philadelphia: Untitled Moosh Documentary. Photo/video project honoring Philadelphia’s Black Church music scene and contemporary Philadelphia music artist Dequincy Coleman-Mcrae, also known as Moosh
  • Kimberly Camp, Collingswood, NJ: John Coltrane Dolls. Physical art project honoring saxophonist, composer and bandleader John Coltrane
  • Kyra Williams, Philadelphia: SIMBY Presents: The Voices of Sisterly Affection. Photo/video project honoring Billie Holiday, Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman, Left Eye, Eve, Jill Scott, DJ Diamond Kuts, Jazmine Sullivan and Tierra Whack
  • Maurice Chestnut, New Jersey: Photo/video project honoring saxophonist, composer and bandleader John Coltrane and tap dancers Honi Coles, The Nicholas Brothers, The Condos Brothers and Lavaughn Robinson
  • Owen Brown, Jr. (Owen Valentine), Philadelphia: The Strings of Philadelphia. Audio project honoring string arrangements of the Sound of Philadelphia Records
  • Rachel Godfrey, Philadelphia: Beyond the Page: Philly Word Magazine’s Hip-Hop Odyssey Unveiled. Photo/video project honoring Philly Word hip-hop magazine and founder Ogbonna Hagin
  • Dr. Sheena Howard, Philadelphia: Herstory the Fairy: Meet Marian Anderson. Physical art project honoring gospel singer Marion Williams
  • Sundiata Watson, Philadelphia: Pure Hell Homage. Photo/video project honoring Black punk band Pure Hell
  • Sweet Corey-Bey, Philadelphia: Black Blues Culture. Live performance project honoring blues artists Gladys Bentley and Bessie Smith
  • Taylor McLendon(Ivy Sole), Philadelphia: Philly Club Mini-Doc. Photo/video project honoring Philly club music DJs
  • Terrill Johnson, Philadelphia: Physical art project honoring The Roots
  • Timothy Welbeck, Middletown, DE: Hip-Hop is Black Culture. Photo/video project honoring Philadelphia’s role in pioneering and innovating hip-hop scholarship

Each of the 2024 Black Music City grant recipients is also receiving a free, one-year membership to REC Philly (a $1,000 value).

Black Music City has awarded a total of $397,500 in artistic grants to 129 recipients since it was founded in 2020. Its three founding partners – Philadelphia public radio music stations WXPN-FM and WRTI-FM, and REC Philly, a place for creators – administer the project and promote the grant recipients and their new work to the broader Philadelphia arts community. Lead support for Black Music City 2024 is being provided by the William Penn Foundation.

More information about Black Music City is available at www.blackmusiccity.com. Follow and share using #blackmusiccity.

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