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This year, the Save The Music team will be highlighting the stories of music educators, advocates, and community leaders, while shining a light on some of our favorite music venues in the United States. Each venue has done tremendous work in authentically uplifting the communities they serve. They also house a deep history of showcasing the best and brightest talent in the world today.

As we focus on ensuring greater music education access in schools, we recognize that these performance spaces are crucial parts of our music ecosystem. Their presence is vital in each of the cities we host partnerships with. Each of these venues is led and/or founded by BIPOC arts administrators, who champion diversity and the rich cultural legacies in their communities. Having these spaces for young musicians to perform in, and to watch others perform, is an important part of their holistic education. Click each of the profiles below to learn more about the work happening in each of these communities across the country.

Newark Symphony Hall has been the home of almost a century of arts and culture in what is now New Jersey’s longest standing arts and entertainment venue. They have presented every artist, from Marian Anderson, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, Beyonce, and more. Taneshia Nash Laird serves as the organization’s Executive Director.

Before the Apollo, before the Regal, there was The Howard Theatre. At its opening in 1910 it was “the largest colored theatre in the world.” Sadly shuttered and neglected since the early 1980s, the once majestic building with its “trunk of soul” has survived death in order to be reborn in 2012.

For most of the 20th century, The Howard Theatre captivated audiences with music, dance, drama and comedy. In its early days, speakers like Booker T. Washington shared the stage with musicals, road shows, vaudeville acts, theater productions and community programs. Later, Washington’s favorite son Duke Ellington inaugurated a new era of jazz big bands on The Howard’s stage.

Dubbed the “Theatre for The People” by The Washington Bee, it was the place where dignitaries like President Franklin D. Roosevelt gathered with everyday folks to see both superstars and rising stars – many of whom debuted at The Howard Theatre. Along with Duke Ellington, greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway and Nat King Cole graced the Howard stage and made way for talents like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gilespie, The Supremes, Otis Redding, Lena Horne and James Brown.

The revitalization of the space was largely led by historian and community advocate Sandra Butler Truesdale. Chip Ellis currently operates and manages this space, with support from The Blue Note.

Although it isn’t a typical music venue, this dance studio hosts a myriad of community centered events in Philadelphia. Hailed for its superbly trained dancers and inventive choreography, the internationally-active KYL/D draws upon Eastern philosophies, contemplative practices and the movement arts. Artistic Director Lin’s zen-inspired practice of dance manifests in lush works of poetic sensibility that The New York Times says “create and inhabit worlds of their own.” Lin draws upon insights from his ongoing research throughout Asia and around the globe, creating a personal movement language that is suffused with strong spiritual underpinnings. Katie Moore serves as the organization’s Executive Director.

The Beckmen YOLA Center was founded through the efforts of Gustavo Dudamel and is a space for music educators from across the U.S. and around the world to collaborate and learn. It operates as a cultural resource for the people of Inglewood, and emerged out of a close collaboration between the City of Inglewood, and architect Frank Gehry. It was financially made possible by a donation from Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen, and Camille Delaney-McNeil currently serves as it’s inaugural Director.

Photo Credits:

The photos you’ll see posted throughout this series were captured by the following:

Veronica Monjaras / Las Fotos Project – Inglewood, California

Anthony Sealey – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ray Llanos – Washington, District of Columbia

Andrew Binger – Newark, New Jersey