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The State of Black Music and the Arts across Greater Boston

June 14, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Historically within black communities and families, music and the arts have served to be the most powerful forms for communication, morale boosters, and influencers of hope during the most difficult circumstances. Its liberating power has pushed the boundaries of language and imagination, connected cultures, tapped into our intellectualism and has penetrated our emotional core, the heart.

From Negro spirituals that provided salvation during slavery times, and the intricate sounds of jazz by Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington during the Great Depression, to Alex Haley’s “Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “Roots”, to the gospel hymns of Mahalia Jackson during the early civil rights movement and a new generation of voices that demand respect, freedom and equality in songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”, Rapsody’s “Lalia’s Wisdom”, John Legend’s “Glory”, and Beyonce’s “Formation” – the music of these griots and endless others helped us through the toughest of times.

With the impact of technology, politics, radio syndication, consumerism, and social media shifting our ways of engagement with music and art, to societal issues of racism, mass incarceration, sexism, pay inequality and gentrification that affect how people collaborate with each other, it begs the questions: “Where is black music and black arts headed?” Can our black creative economy continue to ignite a modern-day renaissance and initiate global transformation, or will it fade into a memory?

Join us for a two part conversation: a one-on-one conversation with Co-Founder of Black Music Month, Dyana Williams, as well as lively panel discussion with music historians, arts educators and practicing artists of color who discuss the current condition and future of Black music and the arts at a local and national level.

Friday, June 14, 2019


Doors open at 6pm

Ticket price: $20 (all ages)

Hibernian Hall

184 Dudley Street

Roxbury, Ma 02119

Dyana Williams


Whether showcasing her talents in broadcasting, print journalism and community activism or television producing & reporting, media coaching and lecturing, she’s remained a constant force in the entertainment industry for over three decades.

Affectionately named “The Ambassador of African-American Music” by American Express’ Departures magazine, the Harlem, New York native began her career at WHUR-FM in the Nation’s Capitol and later, journeyed back home to the top-rated station, WBLS-FM. After making history as the first African-American woman to join an on-air team in rock radio at WRQX-FM, she landed her first on-camera position as an entertainment reporter on “PM Magazine,” which aired on Washington, D.C.’s CBS affiliate, WUSA.

After co-founding the International Association of African-American Music in 1991, she furthered her commitment to her community by rallying alongside Congressman Chaka Fattah to pass House Concurrent Bill 509, which she co-authored as a means to give credence to the contributions of African-American music as a viable cultural and economic entity.


Tessil Collins

Collins is the CEO of Spectrum Broadcasting Corporation and operates its divisions Spectrum Creatives and Spectrum Management. Mr. Collins is a subject matter expert in all aspects of media production and technology, graphic and web design, product promotion, marketing and advertising. Tessil is executive producer of the internet music station, Sun-Music.net and the producer of the Jazz 24/7 online station for WGBH.


L’Merchie Frazier

Frazier, a public fiber artist, innovator, poet and holographer, is Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket. For fifteen years she has been engaged in highlighting and curating the Museum’s collection/exhibits, in providing place-based education and interdisciplinary history programs, projects and lectures, most recently promoting STEM / STEAM education pedagogy, and in managing the successful Faculty/ Teachers’ Institutes and its extension, The Cross Cultural Classroom, a benefit marketed to independent education entities, municipalities and corporations.

Porsha Olayiwola

 Porsha Olayiwola is the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. Black, poet, queer-dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist: Porsha is a native of Chicago who now resides in Boston where she organizes, writes and teaches. Porsha co-founded The House Slam, Boston’s first poetry slam venue and coaches their award winning poetry slam team. In 2018, Porsha was named by GK100 as one of Boston’s Most Influential People of Color. She is the Artistic Director at MassLEAP, a literary non-profit organization in Massachusetts serving youth artists.


Shaumba Dibinga

 OrigiNation is a performing arts organization based in Roxbury that has been serving youth since 1994. Founding Executive and Artistic Director Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga has extensive training, teaching, and performance experience in all areas of dance and theater and has been writing poetry and producing plays for twenty years. She founded OrigiNation, “The Nation that Caters to Youth,” to provide a safe haven for young people to learn the importance of self-respect, health, public speaking, education, self-confidence, job training, and the extent of African influences on various contemporary art forms.


Arielle Gray, Moderator

Arielle Gray is the Arts Engagement Producer for The ARTery, WBUR’s arts and culture team. She manages the ARTery’s social media, events and curated content.  She is a Boston-based multimedia journalist who uses journalism and graphic art to tell the stories of underserved voices. Arielle got her start covering music for the local platform KillerBoomBox, and went on to write for other publications such as DigBoston, Huffington Post and Afropunk. Her work often focuses on the intersections of marginalized identities while examining these intersections through a social justice lens. She is also currently an artist fellow for the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Roxbury.


Barrington Edwards

Barrington is an artist, illustrator and educator. He is seeking challenges in the world of communication design and illustration. He also has over twenty years of working in both youth and community development and education. He has had work published in the field of comics and illustration and has collaborated on graphic novels and comics projects for publishers nationally.

Barrington has worked as an independent educational consultant for the state of California by way of a third party. He currently participates in social intervention work with the Design Studio for Social Intervention using both design thinking and process in troubleshooting how groups and communities work to address social issues.


June 14, 2019
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Hibernian Hall
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