Voices Heard: Black Women in Creative Music

Curated by Nicole Mitchell, Voices Heard is a series of events that highlight intergenerational expressions of visionary Black women expanding artistic dimensions through music. Many have been creatively energized by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a Chicago-based collective that has made incredible contributions to contemporary music around the globe.

Conceived as a way to lift the voices of women artists through both musical and oral traditions, Nicole Mitchell has set out to illuminate the experiences Black women in creative music have had in forging their own creative paths.  

The first event held on November 20. 2016, featured multi-instrumentalist/composer Shanta Nurullah in duo with renown vocalist/composer Dee Alexander, live interviews and the unveiling of video footage revealing ideas, inspirations and challenges some of these women share. The event kicked off the Voices Heard: Black Women in Creative Music Festival 2016, which will culminate on December 10-11 at The Promontory, 5311 S Lake Park Ave, Chicago.  See full schedule below.

Mitchell, the former first woman Chair of the AACM, credits her experience in that organization as the foundation from which she has approached developing her own musical voice. Now an internationally recognized composer, performer, and mentor, Nicole Mitchell has consistently advocated for women artists’ contributions to be in the foreground on stage and by creating large scale compositions reflecting on the life and work of Octavia Butler, Harriet Tubman, Michelle Obama and Alice Coltrane. 

“The Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC) is especially pleased to partner with Nicole Mitchell on the Voices Heard: Black Women in Creative Music Festival,” says its executive director Lauren Deutsch.  “The Jazz Institute's long partnership with Nicole Mitchell includes commissioning several new works in addition to helping to build our education and neighborhood concert series programs when she was employed at JIC. We're excited to be a part of this new festival that continues her commitment to highlight the contributions of women in creative music”.