October 14, 2017
NYU Washington, DC and CapitalBop presented Amina Claudine Myers in a rare and special solo performance as the fall installment of the Traveling Loft series. Amina Claudine Myers is one of the most widely respected pianists of her generation — though she’s never become the most widely known. The performance was opened by Fred Foss.
In advance of the concert, Amina Claudine Myers offered a free master class as part of CapitalBop's Traveling Loft Series. The class was aimed specifically at students but open to all
Special thanks to NYU Trustee Ronald Abramson and The Anne and Ronald Abramson Family Foundation for generously supporting this program.
Amina Claudine Myers is a pianist, organist, vocalist, composer, master improvisationalist, actress and educator. Ms. Myers has performed nationally and internationally throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America.
She is well known for her work involving voice choirs, voice and instrumental ensembles. Ms. Myers’ career in music began in her preteens and throughout high school directing church choirs, singing and playing gospel and rhythm and blues. She began playing and singing jazz in college in and around Arkansas. Myers studied concert music at Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education.
After moving to Chicago, Ill. in the 1960’s Ms. Myers taught in the public school system for six years. She attended Roosevelt University briefly and became a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in 1966. As an AACM member she started composing for voice and instruments. In 1975 she organized her very first choir for a musical she wrote called I DREAM.
In 1976 Ms. Myers moved to New York City where her career became even more multifaceted. In 1977 she moved into the theater realm, writing pieces for this medium. She acted and composed music for a number of Off-Broadway productions. Ms. Myers was the assistant musical director for AIN’T MISBEHAVIN' prior to it’s Broadway production. In 1978 she was choral director at SUNY at Old Westbury for a year.
Ms. Myers has recorded and/or performed with Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, James Blood Ulmer, Lester Bowie, Bob Stewart, Joey Baron, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Muhal Richard Abrams, Bill Laswell, Eddie Harris, Von Freeman, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Frank Lowe, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and other well known artists. Myers conducts workshops, seminar and residencies at colleges and universities, nationally and internationally.
There are eleven recordings released under Ms. Myers’ name: SAMA ROU (Songs From My Soul), piano and voice, Amina C Records; AUGMENTED VARIATIONS , Solo piano and voice, Vocal Quartet with Instrumental Trio and the Amina Claudine Myers Trio, Amina C Records; AMINA CLAUDINE MYERS LIVE in Bremen, Germany, Tradition and Modern Records; AMINAand IN TOUCH, RCA Novus; JUMPING IN THE SUGARBOWL and COUNTRY GIRL, Minor Music; THE CIRCLE OF TIME, Black Saint; AMINA CLAUDINE MYERS SALUTES BESSIE SMITH and SONG FOR MOTHER E, Leo Records; POEMS FOR PIANO, the piano music of Marion Brown, Sweet Earth Records.
Her larger works include: INTERIORS, a composition for chamber orchestra conducted by Peter Kotik and performed by S.E.M. Orchestra. This piece was produced by the AACM and performed at the NYC Society of Ethical Culture; IM-PROVISATIONAL SUITE FOR CHORUS, PIPE ORGAN AND PERCUSSION; for 16 operatic voices, pipe organ and two percussionists; WHEN THE BERRIES FELL, eight voices, piano, Hammond B3 and percussion; A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE, a staged piece showing the workings of the inside mind. This included a chef from New Orleans and his assistant, a weaver, pianist, guitar/trumpet/voice (Olu Dara) and choreographer Rrata Christine Jones. Original art work by Ms. Myers was on the set; FOCUS, a piece written for piano, voice, electric bass and photographic images from Myers’ home town of Blackwell. HOW LONG BRETHREN, based on Negro Songs of Protest originally created by Helen Tamiris, was recreated by choreographer Diane McIntyre. The music score was created by Genevieve Pitot with original orchestra arrangements by Leslie Loth. The orchestral score was discovered with instrumentation only. Ms. Myers recreated and re-edited parts that were found in pieces from the archives of George Mason University. She conducted the symphony orchestras with choruses (The Wesley Boyd Singers of Washington, D.C at George Mason University; and the Western University Chorus from Western University). Myers has composed a few big band compositions performed by AACM musicians. She has performed works written by writer Ntozake Shange and other new works created by Diane McIntyre. Myers has collaborated in ongoing concerts with her soul sister Sola Liu where they are combining Chinese and Afro-American music traditions through singing, playing and dancing.
Most recently Ms. Myers has been performing original works of jazz, blues, gospel, spirituals and improvisations for the pipe organ. She has performed at Columbia University (St. Paul’s Chapel) NYC; St. Marks, Phil., Penn. and cities throughout North America, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Norway and Finland.
In 2010 Myers was commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Institute to compose and direct a composition for a 17 piece jazz orchestra in honor of the late and great composer, arranger and pianist Miss Mary Lou Williams’ 100th birthday. She was also commissioned by Baritonist Thomas Buckner to compose a composition for him. She titled it I WILL NOT FEAR THE UNKNOWN for baritone and piano. The performances were “lots of fun” says Myers.
Ms. Myers has received many grants and awards, including National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, and The New York Foundation for the Arts. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame 2001 and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame 2010.
Ms. Myers resides and teaches privately in New York City.
The warm and sonorous reeds player Fred Foss is masterful on both alto and tenor saxophones, as well as flute. He’s mentored a range of the District’s major talent, from the internationally-renowned bassist Ben Williams to the rising saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed.
CapitalBop, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz in Washington, D.C. We build audiences in order to build community around this music, because it’s important to the city’s historic identity, but also ever-changing and contemporary. CapitalBop.com is designed to help everyone from newcomers to jazz die-hards find live music that will fit their preferences.
The CapitalBop DC Jazz Loft Series is funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NYU Washington, DC Salon Series: Conversations with Writers & Artists offers an opportunity for the NYU and Washington, DC community to meet and engage in dialogue with acclaimed writers and artists as they reflect on their craft. This program provides facilitated conversations that aim to illuminate the guests’ creative processes, discuss their current works, and explain the impact of their work on the world around us.