Nashville Symphony is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Grants for Arts Projects award of $50,000. This grant will support the world premiere production of The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph, by legendary trumpeter and composer Hannibal Lokumbe. Premiering April 13-16 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, this monumental, multi-disciplinary work features a cast of six vocalists, nine actors, a full chorus, a jazz quartet, an African drumming ensemble, costumes, set design and film. More information about the project can be found at nashvillesymphony.org/jonahpeople.
In the title, a reference to the parable of Jonah and the Whale, Lokumbe finds commonality between those kidnapped from Africa to travel the Middle Passage and Jonah’s own journey inside the great sea creature. In confronting the legacies of slavery, Lokumbe’s work also celebrates the spirit of those who endured – the ancestors whose gifts of hope, perseverance and resilience produced successive generations of visionaries and world-changers.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with the Nashville Symphony strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.” This project joins other awards totaling nearly $28.8 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.
Alan D. Valentine, President and CEO of the Nashville Symphony, shares: “The National Endowment for the Arts has our deepest gratitude for helping to make this important and groundbreaking work possible. We invite the entire community to join us in April when the Nashville Symphony will mount a celebration of music, community and the African American experience that brings together every aspect of this singular project to leave a transformational, lasting impact on the city of Nashville and beyond.”
For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.