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Black Music City awards grants to 30 Philly-area Black creatives

June 2024 update:

This year's Black Music City Artist Showcase will be at World Cafe Live on Wednesday, June 19th from 5–9pm. You are invited to be part of a celebration honoring Philly’s rich Black music heritage on Juneteenth! Tickets are available at BlackMusicCity.com for this free event.

WRTI is proud to sponsor Black Music City for a fourth year in partnership with REC Philly and WXPN, supporting and elevating new works by Philadelphia area Black creatives.

Here's a direct link to the Eventbrite ticket page for this Juneteenth celebration of creativity. Please join us!

Black Music City has selected 30 Black creatives in the greater Philadelphia area to receive grants of between $1,500 and $5,000 each in 2024. 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 from decades of Philadelphia music, 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 $125,000 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:

Black Music City has awarded a total of $388,000 in artistic grants to 129 recipients since it was founded in 2020. Its three founding partners - Philadelphia public radio music stations WRTI-FM and WXPN-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.

Some of the 2024 Black Music City grant winners and their new artistic projects include:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Grier Spry (Miss G), Philadelphia: Sounds of Philly AR Filter. Physical art project honoring various Philly music artists
  • 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
  • Karen Moore, Philadelphia: Packin Up the Marion Williams Story. Live performance project honoring gospel singer Marion Williams 
  • 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
  • Dr. Sheena Howard, Philadelphia: Herstory the Fairy: Meet Marian Anderson. Physical art project honoring gospel singer Marion Williams 
  • Sweet Corey-Bey, Philadelphia: Black Blues Culture. Live performance project honoring blues artists Gladys Bentley and Bessie Smith
  • Terrill Johnson, Philadelphia: Physical art project honoring The Roots

Black Music City was honored by The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia 2023 Arts + Business Council Awards, celebrating projects that demonstrate impactful collaborations between the local arts and business sectors. Lead support for Black Music City 2024 is being provided by the William Penn Foundation.

More information about Black Music City is available at blackmusiccity.com.