Black Music City announces 30 honorees for artist grant program - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

The 2024 list of Black Music City project winners is here. 30 Black Philly-area artists across mediums will be awarded grants of $1,500 to $5,000 to fund art aimed at honoring Philadelphia’s Black music heritage. The winning projects, which include live performances, photo and video storytelling, and multi-media visual art installations, will be exhibited in June during African American Music Appreciation Month.

Out of 717 applicants, the 30 grantees were chosen by the Selection Committee of Samantha Rise (singer-songwriter, activist Pew fellow), Greg Bryant (radio host, musician), Seraiah Nicole (vocalist, spoken word artist), Laurin Talese (songwriter, vocalist), Chill Moody (performer, entrepreneur), and XPN’s own radio host and music journalist, John Morrison. “We saw the enormous impact of Philadelphia’s Black music history and its ongoing importance in reviewing the grant applications,” said committee member Seraiah Nicole. “The selected artists’ new projects will really help illuminate this abundant resource and its many contributions to our culture.”

Black Music City is a collaboration among REC Philly, WRTI, and WXPN, and received funding from the William Penn Foundation. Read more about the project at their website. Check out a photo gallery from last year’s showcase of Black Music City projects hosted at World Cafe Live and featuring music from Julia Pratt and Zeek Burse. Check out this year’s winners and their intended projects below.

  • 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
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