Juneteenth is a holiday when Black Americans commemorate the end of slavery, and WRTI is responding with an all-day salute to Black classical and jazz artistry—sharing the work of many Black composers, men and women, as well as Black soloists, conductors, and performers.
WRTI’s Juneteenth programming is a celebration and also part of our ongoing commitment to amplify underrepresented voices and perspectives in music. You will continue to hear that commitment on-air and online. These are voices and ideas that must be heard to fully appreciate just how vital this music is to our collective well-being.
Join us on Juneteenth during classical hours for a day-long celebration, with non-stop music of Black composers and spirituals. Twelve hours and 27 composers.
Their names inlcude:
Florence Price, H.T. Burleigh, William Grant Still, Joseph Bologne Chevalier Saint-George, James P. Johnson, Francis Johnson, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, J. Rosamond Johnson, David Baker, Adolphus Hailstork, Margaret Bonds, A.J.R. Conner, Jeff Scott, George Walker, Scott Joplin, Undine Smith Moore, Thomas A. Dorsey, Clarence Cameron White, Valerie Coleman, Eleanor Alberga, Michael Abels, Ornettte Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, H. Leslie Adams, and Ulysses Kay.
Gregg Whiteside opens the day with Lara Downes’ mesmerizing performance of Florence Price’s Clouds, Imani Winds’ rousing rendition of "Lift Ev’ry Voice," Adolphus Hailstork’s own take on "Amazing Grace" and an edition of the Sousalarm with Philadelphia’s own 19th-century bandleader, Francis Johnson and his Princeton Grand March.
Keeping it local, Debra Lew Harder will share the Philadelphia Orchestra’s premiere performance of Valerie Coleman’s orchestral version of Umoja and later she’ll take you up to the Big Apple, with New Yorker Jessie Montgomery’s play on the urban soundscape, Coincident Dances, and James P. Johnson’s Harlem Symphony.
Kevin Gordon rounds out the day with the Grammy-winning album featuring the Hootenanny from Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto as well as part of the soundtrack from the film, Us, by Michael Abels on Flix@5.
And throughout the day, you’ll be treated to knock-out vocal performances by tenor Lawrence Brownlee, soprano Jessye Norman. and baritone Jubilant Sykes.
On the jazz side, we'll celebrate Juneteenth by showcasing the Black Experience through Black Music. Selections from Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited will be featured, along with excerpts from Irvin Mayfield’s 2004 opus, Strange Fruit. Songs of freedom will grace the airwaves from Charles Mingus, Bobby Watson and Kenny Garrett, among others.
Traditional spirituals played by numerous jazz artists will be heard, and, of course, The High Priestess of Soul and renowned civil rights activist Nina Simone will be spotlighted, with her music from the Civil Rights Era.