Columbia Museum of Art receives Connected Communities Grant Award from Central Carolina Community Foundation

Mimi Jones and her band The Black Madonna performing at the last More Than Rhythm program on April 29. Photo credit: Drew Baron / Columbia Museum of Art.

Mimi Jones and her band The Black Madonna performing at the last More Than Rhythm program on April 29. Photo credit: Drew Baron / Columbia Museum of Art.

Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) announces it has been selected as a recipient of a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF). The $50,000 award will support More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series, hosted by Dr. Birgitta Johnson.

Black music represents one of the oldest and broadest rivers that pours into America’s sonic ocean. The history that the music of Black Americans affirms is key to its enduring popularity and influence across lines of race, gender, age, class, and language. More Than Rhythm celebrates the ways music has historically brought us together and takes participants on a journey through several eras of Black musical expressions, finding common ground and nurturing a deep appreciation of Black music traditions. All experiences take place at the museum.

“We are so thankful for CCCF’s support of More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series,” says CMA Manager of Engagement Wilson Bame, who leads the program. “This grant gives us some exciting opportunities for this series, like offering free admission, and we can’t wait for more music lovers and learners to experience it!”

More Than Rhythm premiered March 5, 2022, with a program featuring Dr. Tony McNeill and The Heritage Celebration Chorale, who performed a sampling of diverse sacred choral textures that exist in the Black sacred music tradition. On April 29, the second program of the series focused on America’s first global pop style in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month. Guest artist Mimi Jones spoke with Dr. Johnson and assistant professor of jazz at UofSC Dr. Colleen Clark about the vibrant roots and genre-merging futures of jazz before Jones and her band The Black Madonna took the stage.

On Friday, June 3, the third program of the series will feature SC Lowcountry native and consciousness-raising hip-hop artist Benny Starr. After a sit-down with Dr. Johnson, the recent US Water Alliance Artist-in-Residence performs with a full band to help celebrate Black Music Month. The night prior, the CMA will offer a free screening of Benny Starr’s newest film project, Restoration: A Concert Film, presented by his hip-hop group, Native Son.

More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series will continue through 2023; more programs will be announced shortly.

With More Than Rhythm, the CMA presents live concerts and discussions to educate the public and foster dialogue around racial inequality and under-representation. This series represents a critical step as the CMA aims to expand diverse programming and to facilitate constructive conversations beyond the art on the walls. The project consists of concerts, lectures, films, community discussions, workshops, and popular CMA Binder podcast interviews. To further expand access and impact, the CMA will offer free admission for all More Than Rhythm concert programs. Altogether, with CCCF’s support, this series will raise public awareness of the region as a more livable, equitable, and just community in which to live, work, and play.

CCCF, the Midlands’ leader in collaborative philanthropy, awarded Connected Communities grants totaling $366,704 to 12 nonprofit organizations. “We are proud to award Connected Communities grants to these outstanding organizations,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “Their innovative projects will enhance their community’s quality of life and provide support to underserved residents.”

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