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Conversations at MOCA

Conversations at MOCA - Defining Sound and Space: The History and Legacy of Black Marching Bands

January 19, 2024
6:00 pm
January 19, 2024
8:00 pm
Conversations at MOCA - Defining Sound and Space: The History and Legacy of Black Marching Bands


Black marching bands have deep roots in the United States, dating back to the early 19th century. Embodying a practice of claiming public space, these bands became powerful expressions of cultural identity, community pride, and creative excellence. Inspired by the celebratory work of Jamea Richmond-Edwards, join us for an exploration into the rich and vibrant history of Black marching bands. In this program, noted scholars delve into the cultural significance, musical innovation, and social impact of these dynamic ensembles that have played a pivotal role in American history.

6 PM       Tour of Jamea Richmond-Edwards' exhibition

6:30 PM    Reception in the Paradise Courtyard

7 PM       Conversation begins

Meet our panelists:

- Rich Medina approaches his DJ practice as an archivist, storyteller, educator, and “ambassador for Black excellence.” His live and online performances and programs —such as the “African American Culture and Music” lecture series for The Barnes Foundation and livestream “Monday Meditations” programs — combine entertainment and education, amplifying Black diasporic ingenuity and musical heritage. Medina’s childhood immersed in both the Baptist church and hip-hop culture influenced him to imbue his work with a sense of tradition, history, and community. He spins records from his 50,000-album collection at events around the world, including his Jump ‘n’ Funk Afrobeat party dedicated to Fela Kuti, which he has presented in 25 cities since 2001. Medina has performed as a poet and vocalist on records by King Britt, Phil Asher, and Antibalas and has worked as a producer with Jill Scott, J Dilla, and Bobbito Garcia, among many other collaborations.

- Fredara Mareva Hadley, Ph.D. is an ethnomusicology professor in the Music History Department at The Juilliard School where she teaches courses on ethnomusicology and African American Music. Her work has been featured in academic journals and the press including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Billboard Magazine. Her commentary is included in documentaries including Little Richard: I am Everything, The 1619 Project, PBS' The Black Church, and others. She is the proud alumna of two historically Black colleges: Florida A&M University and Clark-Atlanta University.

- Melvin L. Butler is Associate Professor at the University of Miami, where he teaches in the Department of Musicology at the Frost School of Music and serves as Associate Dean of the Office of Academic Enhancement for Undergraduate Affairs. A scholar-performer with broad interests in music and religion of the African diaspora, he has conducted field research on popular music and religion in Haiti, Jamaica, and the United States. His research explores black music - making, improvisation, and transcendence, with an emphasis on discourses of cultural authenticity and power that inflect Spirit-filled Christian worship.

Image Credit:

Virtual Tour