Uniquely positioned as possibly the first and only nationwide Master Class Series, a program featuring African American classical music masters and designed to partner with HBCUs, is on the move with National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) federal funding.

Now underway, the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA)’s national Master Class Series funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) presents the first session at Hampton University, Hampton, VA on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Facilitated by soprano Angela Renee Simpson, the Master Class Series, which is at no cost to the institutions, is part of the NEA’s $25 million in grants, the first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018, approved by NEA Chairman Jane Chu.

CAAPA received $10,000 of the Art Works category budget, the NEA’s largest funding category supporting projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.


So far, additional confirmed CAAPA Master Class 2018 sessions include Southern University on Wednesday, March 21st; Howard University on Wednesday, April 11th; Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark-Atlanta University on Thursday, April 12th with Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Livingstone College, and Virginia State University pending final dates.

Music Masters scheduled to facilitate the sessions include bass/baritone Kevin Short and tenor and NEA Award recipient George Shirley, with Simpson who also serves as the program coordinator conducting the Master Class at Southern University.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects, such as this one with CAAPA, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities and connections the arts bring.”

CAAPA Board Chair/Co-Founder Pamela Simonson and Simpson agree with Chairman Chu that the Master Class Series focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standard of excellence by partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to help bring classical Music Masters to a diverse group of college students.

neaThe two opera singers describe the program, which coordinates Master Classes throughout the nation as an opportunity for Black music students to gain exposure from what CAAPA describes as “informances” (informational performances) are designed to enhance classically trained voices in acting, diction, repertoire, and movement for aspiring singers.

They, along with CAAPA board members and program founders Shirley and tenor Issachah Savage, are honored to provide the series. Music Masters share knowledge and skills with participants, while showcasing to audience members the strength and vigor of the aspiring Black classical singer while supporting young and developing professional careers in opera, recitals, and the concert stage, and in particular during the audition process.

Now in its fourth year, Simpson has also successfully partnered with Texas Southern University, Winston-Salem University, Jackson State University, USC @ Irvine, and University of Kentucky, as well as Nyack College and Detroit School for the Arts, with past Music Masters including soprano Angela M. Brown, N’Kenge, bass/baritone Morris Robinson, and soprano Jayme Alilaw.

Contact Simpson at angela@4caapa.org to schedule for the 2018-2019 season. To access projects included in NEA’s grants, visit www.arts.gov/news.



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