I believe classical music should NOT be exclusive, but inclusive of our collective experiences.
Classical music, like all music, can help us connect as we venture into an increasingly diverse future.
I understood the power of connecting through music at a young age. As a little girl from Louisiana with Creole roots, I ate my fair share of gumbo, crawfish, and hush puppies! I loved sitting at the table with family and friends and stuffing my face! In Louisiana, every gathering is seasoned with good music- jazz, blues, gospel, soul and zydeco –
BECAUSE MUSIC IS TOGETHERNESS.
When I started playing violin at the age of four, I had no reason to believe classical music would be different. I didn’t expect to hear classical music at the next crawfish boil, but I thought my music would be for everyone! After all, the violin was a perfect fit for my little fingers, and I loved how it sounded — I wanted to share it with the world! Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to feel a cultural disconnect. Even at a young age, I felt different and confused. My violin classes were miles away from my community, but culturally, they felt worlds away.
Years later, I finished graduate school with a Doctorate in Violin Performance and toured with a carefully crafted recital program featuring Mozart, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, and Gershwin. Now a professional, the disconnect I felt as a young student was amplified as I scanned audiences for brown faces. In each venue, I saw only one or two, if any. City to city and year to year, I felt caught between two worlds- the classical music world and my diverse community of family and friends.
EVENTUALLY, I DECIDED TO FIND WAYS TO BRING THE TWO WORLDS TOGETHER.
I began researching music of African-American composers and found a treasure trove of classical music infused with flavors of African-American culture. For the first time, I felt a cultural connection to classical music. I recorded the cd Legacy for Albany Records and created The Legacy Show, a live concert experience inspired by the cd. Touring nationally with The Legacy Show, I noticed something distinctly different.
FROM THE STAGE, I COULD SEE ALL KINDS OF FACES –
People of different ages and cultural backgrounds enjoying music together. THIS IS WHAT MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT! Classical music CAN be inclusive. We CAN celebrate all cultures.
I BREAK BARRIERS AND BUILD BRIDGES IN CLASSICAL MUSIC.
I am a PERFORMING ARTIST, EDUCATOR, and CONSULTANT who understands classical music and diverse communities. I thrive in both spaces. I help general audiences, educators, and students dive into Africlassical music in ways that are accessible and fun. I also help organizations address challenges associated with diversity in classical music so they can be inclusive and welcoming to everyone. I can’t tackle the lack of diversity in classical music single handedly, but I can be a part of the solution . . . and YOU CAN TOO!
Let's work together to present programming that serves all demographics and encourages everyone to to engage in a diverse music world!
Copyright © 2019 Tami Lee Hughes - All Rights Reserved.