How Music Responds on WRTI

In these extraordinary times, music and music makers have something to say about Black Music and the Black Experience. WRTI hosts engage in meaningful, inspiring conversations with a wide variety of guests about the power of music to transcend our differences and bring us closer together.

Joseph Conyers is acting associate principal bass of The Philadelphia Orchestra, founder and executive director of Project 440, and music director of Philadelphia's All-City Orchestra. He spoke with WRTI's Susan Lewis about guiding young musicians in ways to deal with these difficult times. 

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.

A Juneteenth Message from WRTI 90.1

Jun 18, 2020

As a mission-driven station, WRTI champions music as a vital cultural resource to move and inspire, educate and entertain, all while reflecting the community we serve.

Terence Blanchard is a jazz trumpeter, composer and music educator. His most recent work is the score for the 2020 film Da 5 Bloods, his latest of many collaborations with director Spike Lee.

Professional trumpet player, educator, advocate, and arts leader Stanford Thompson is founder and executive director of Play On, Philly, which teaches hundreds of children in underserved communities to play classical music in orchestral settings.

Courtesy of Jeri Lynne Johnson

In 2008, African-American conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson founded Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble of classically trained musicians from diverse cultures and ethnicities as a model for the 21st century. She shared with WRTI's Susan Lewis her thoughts about the possibilities for change in classical music culture.


Black Music is the story of the Black Experience. It spans across all genres of music and is an important part of American history and culture. This week, we’re paying homage to Black composers and musicians and their journey of expression and creativity—and we’re asking you to join us.

Valerie Coleman has written works for The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Library of Congress, and a host of other organizations and ensembles, including the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, of which she is the founder and former flutist. She talked with WRTI's Susan Lewis about writing music in today's difficult times. 

June 15, 2020. In 1998, bassist and bandleader Christian McBride composed The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons as part of a musical commission. At the time, he considered it a musical portrait of the Civil Rights Movement; it became much more than that.

Wikipedia Commons

Check out these digital stories from the WRTI Arts Desk that highlight Black artists and composers—from classical and jazz worlds—who have had an incredible impact on American and global culture. Join us on Juneteenth as we showcase Black artists and composers throughout the day!

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