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Classical Music for Black History Month

Here at Salon97, we love to see classical music as bigger and grander than it tends to present itself. And, quite frankly, classical music does a lousy job talking about talented composers and musicians who aren’t dead, white, and male. The African American contribution to classical music is substantial and real. In honor of Black History Month (and all year round!), we put together this short guide of resources on great African American classical composers, performers, and music.

1. Listen to incredible music performed by barrier-smashing elite performers: Chineke! Orchestra; André Watts; Anthony McGill; Harlem Chamber Players; Jessie Montgomery. (To name a few.)

2. WUOL’s award-winning African American Voices series.
The series contains 13 three-minute radio features highlighting the work of a phenomenal selection of African American performers and composers.

3. Salon97’s 2012 podcast featuring composer William Grant Still.
The Dean of African American Composers was incredible. His music still is.

4. Visit
An in-depth look at the work of 52 African American composers, conductors, and performers. A great resource!

5. Learn about the role classical music played in the civil rights movement: this article from TIME discusses contralto Marian Anderson’s Met performance and its impact on history.

6. Read about 10 black composers who changed classical music, courtesy of ClassicFM.