New faculty light up the Black Music Studies Program

Photo credit: Ian Chinn Photography, courtesy of Museum of the African Diaspora

July 19 2023


“When I teach singing, the first priority is to preserve the integrity of jazz and soul music. I want my singers to understand how Black music has redefined and shaped popular culture. The emotion and feeling comes when we recognize the meaning of songs like ‘What’s Going On’ (Marvin Gaye). I like to create an environment of fun creative expression. But, it’s important for my students to know that R&B, jazz, and blues are part of a broader experience. The harmony, rhythm, and lyrics are rooted in African heritage and born out of our struggles as people of color.”

Rita Lackey, faculty for the choirs: R&B Choir and More, IT Bookman, Downtown Senior Center Choir, and Visitacion Valley

Two years ago, CMC launched the Black Music Studies Program as a certificate program founded and developed by Maestro Curtis PhD with the aim of giving students a deep sense of love, respect, and appreciation for the contributions of American Black Culture and its impact on American music. The certificate program included a rich array of classes with engaging discussions, inspiring demonstrations, and musical examples on the history, culture, and appreciation of music derived from the African Diaspora, 

This year, the Black Music Studies Program is expanding, offering a comprehensive approach to the study of Black Music! Along with the certificate program, private lesson and group class faculty will participate. Based on student interest, private lessons can focus on Black music styles, which include blues, jazz, R&B, Afro-Cuban, funk, soul, and others, as well as offering students a full range of technical and creative skills. Many CMC group classes and ensembles cover music with roots in the African Diaspora, as well as coaching in musicianship, music theory, and ensemble playing. Some of the classes in the Black Music Studies Program include, Vocal Harmony Workshop, R&B Choir and More, The Great Songs of Soul and R&B, and the new Black Music Ensemble: Funk, Soul, R&B, & Gospel.

“It’s exciting to see the Black Music Studies Program blossoming with the support and inclusion of highly skilled, talented, music industry professionals, who bring their perspectives of the diasporic influence of black music… (C)lasses like these will work to restore a stolen legacy and honor the contributions of Black Americans in music and culture in America and the world over.”

Maestro Curtis PhD, Department Head Black Music Studies Program

Black Music Studies Program

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