Founded Organizations and Projects
Big Blue Opera Initiatives at Tennessee State University
Founded in the fall of 2015, the Big Blue Opera Initiatives (BBOI) is an outreach, performance training, and fundraising program serving the vocal music community of Tennessee State University, the boarder HBCU landscape, and underserved communities. The aim is to promote, expose, and support deserving students and communities too often left out of quality performing arts opportunities in Nashville and around the country. Nashville Opera, ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, 105 Voices of History National HBCU Choir, Opera America, the National Museum of African American Music, the Colour of Music Festival, the Harry T. Burleigh Society and the Narnia Festival are among BBOI’s national partners. Through programing such as vocal masterclasses, artists residencies, career workshops, BBOI works to end the stereotypes of what opera and classical music are and who they are for and fiercely advocates for the compositions and creations by African Americans and other communities of color. We are committed to reclaiming agency of culture for people of color through forms of musical expression not always associated with such groups. Past guest artists include soprano Karen Slack and bass-baritone Soloman Howard (Metropolitan Opera), Maestro Keith Chambers (Dallas Opera and New Amsterdam Opera), soprano Donata Cucinotta (Indianapolis Opera), soprano Alfreda Burke of PBS’s Hallelujah Broadway, and tenor Rodrick Dixon of Cook, Dixon, and Young.
The International Florence Festival and The Big Blue Opera Initiatives presents
Songs from the Heart of a Woman: The Vocal Music of Florence Price
W. Crimm Singers (AKA Wakanda Chorale)
Picture it...Norf Nashville, summer of 2018...a group of friends that just so happen to be vocalists of various backgrounds and experiences come together at the request of veteran music educator and opera singer, William G. Crimm for a Wakanda-themed Freedom School presentation. They had so much fun and vowed to get together more often. Thus, the W. Crimm Singers A.K.A. The Wakanda Chorale was born! This aggregation is ensemble-in-residence at Tennessee State University through the Big Blue Opera Initiatives and boosts a roster of over 80 artists. As the name suggests, they wholly embrace music of the Black experience throughout the diaspora and every genre connected to it. From opera and musical theater artists to educators, activists, civil leaders and servants to recording artists, session singers, background vocalists, and even stand out solo artists, you’ll find some everything in this aggregation. In their time together, the aggregation and it’s members have recorded and performed with Louis York, Stars Go Dim, Intersection Contemporary Music Ensemble, Hannibal Lukombe, Rodrick Dixon, and been featured on 91Classical’s Live in Studio C and Bobby Jones Presents. Most recently, the group debuted in the Colour of Music Festival performing R. Nathaniel Dett’s The Chariot Jubilee under the baton of Dr. David Morrow. Each individual truly is a force unto themselves so when they come together, brace yourselves!
Her Story, Her Song: The African American Experience through the Creative Lens of Black Women
Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival
First held in 2016, the Tennessee State University Music Department and the Big Blue Opera Initiatives has hosted the Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival, recognizing the 150th birthday of the pioneering African American composer and arranger and celebrating the legacy of the American Negro spiritual. Each year, the Burleigh Festival focuses on a different area of the spiritual and African American music. The festival features panel discussions and lecture presentations led by prominent scholars and musicians, choral clinics for attendees of varying stations in study, a vocal masterclass focusing in performance practice and style of African American music, and a gala benefit concert in support of the Harry T. Burleigh Fund for Vocal Studies at Tennessee State University. In 2018, the Burleigh Festival Young Artists Program was established to train and present deserving, underserved Nashville area high school students in the areas of voice, musicianship, and African American music performance and history. Each year, the Burleigh Festival grows exponentially in attendance, partnerships, and support. The Festival is also draw for students from numerous colleges and universities and institutions. Notable guest artists and clinicians include soprano, Maestra Kelly Corcoran, Dr. Gale Robinson-Oturu, Dr. Brandon A. Boyd, contralto Gwendolyn Brown, soprano Makeda Hampton, and Maestra and composer Brittany Boykin.
Early Music City
One part Renaissance band, one part Baroque ensemble, celebrating the diverse traditions that make Nashville a great music town – that's EARLY MUSIC CITY. The group takes an historically-inspired, yet light-hearted and open-minded approach to programming, from Renaissance dances, Monteverdi, and Vivaldi, to Stephen Foster, Celtic reels, and spirituals.
Having existed as an informal “gathering of friends” since 2014, EARLY MUSIC CITY made its official debut in September, 2019 at the prestigious Courtyard Concert Series sponsored by the Nashville Public Library. Additional concert performances followed soon after in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Huntsville, Alabama. The group has been invited numerous times to perform on Nashville Public Radio’s “Live in Studio C,” including the show’s 20th anniversary celebration. Early Music America and The Metro Nashville Arts Commission have generously supported the ensemble’s performances. “Music City USA” has been a melting pot of fantastic music for over 200 years. EARLY MUSIC CITY delights in the great traditions of that music, extending back to western Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
For more information, visit https://www.earlymusiccity.org.
Facebook: Early Music City