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Black History, Folk Futures Symposium Speakers and Artists

2024 Black History, Folk Future Symposium Info & Schedule

Symposium Speakers and Artists

Matthew D. Morrison - Keynote Speaker

Matthew D. Morrison, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, is an Associate Professor in the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Matthew holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Columbia University, an. M.A. in Musicology from The Catholic University of America, and was a Presidential music scholar at Morehouse College. He was a Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies Fellow (2021-2022), where he held residencies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, and the Dahlem Humanities Center at the Freie Universität, Berlin. His published work has appeared in publications such as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, the Grove Dictionary of American Music, Oxford Handbooks, art forums/publications, and on Oxford University Press's online music blog. Matthew has held fellowships with the American Council of Learned Societies, Harvard University, the American Musicological Society, Mellon Foundation, the Library of Congress, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Center for Popular Music Studies/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has also served as a consultant and facilitator with arts organizations on programming and issues related to equity and justice, such as The Schubert Club and “The Sound Track of America” opening concert series at the SHED, NYC, along with Quincy Jones, Steve McQueen, and Maureen Mahon. From 2017-2018, Matthew has collaborated on planning and moderating the multi-city touring forum with the Glimmerglass Festival Opera to discuss the role of art in stimulating public discussion about equity, diversity and inclusion in opera, as well as operas commissioned by the Breaking Glass project. Matthew’s book, Blacksound: Making Race in Popular Music in the United States, will be published by The University of California Press in Spring 2024. This book traces the aesthetic and political legacy of blackface minstrelsy in an effort to uncover the relationship between performance, racial identity, and intellectual property in the making of global popular music and its industry from the early nineteenth century into the present.

Jaden Isiah

Jaden Isiah is a young Chicago-based artist with over a decade of experience. As a multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ, and educator, he has passionately immersed himself in music since childhood. With a professional career spanning more than 10 years, Jaden has not only toured the United States and Europe but has also graced renowned festivals worldwide, including Newport Jazz Festival, Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Jazz à la Villette in Paris, Pitchfork, Lyrical Lemonade, and Taste of Chicago.

His journey is deeply rooted in a lifelong fascination with music, fostering an intimate and spiritual connection to the art. Jaden's versatility extends beyond his diverse skill set; it's a testament to his commitment to pushing the boundaries of sonic exploration. His goal revolves around the continual expansion of freedom, rhythm, and sound.

Beyond the stage, Jaden Isiah is a dedicated educator, driven by the desire to share the wealth of knowledge and wisdom acquired throughout his musical career. His story encapsulates a passion for music that transcends personal boundaries, offering a direct invitation to audiences to join him on a sonic journey where creativity knows no bounds.

In addition to his extensive musical journey, Jaden Isiah's impact extends into collaborative projects that echo his commitment to artistic exploration. Whether collaborating with fellow musicians, engaging in community initiatives, or spearheading innovative projects, Jaden's influence resonates beyond individual performances. His collaborative spirit mirrors the inclusive essence of his artistic vision, fostering a sense of unity within the diverse tapestry of the music community. Through these endeavors, Jaden continues to build bridges, connecting with audiences and fellow artists alike, as he invites everyone to share in the boundless possibilities of music.


Junome22, hailing from the vibrant city of Chicago, is a versatile artist who seamlessly blends composition and trombone prowess. With a unique sonic palette, Junome22's music transcends genres, creating a rich tapestry that captivates audiences and reflects the dynamic energy of the Windy City.

Julian Terrell Otis

Julian Terrell Otis, a multidisciplinary artist, creative vocalist and composer progressively pushes positive energy into his interests in experimental music, movement, and theater making. As a vocalist he has had the pleasure of working with Nicole Mitchell, Vijay Iyer, Renee Baker, Douglas R Ewart, Sean Griffin, Angel Bat Dawid, Isaiah Collier, Asher Gamedze, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, and Chicago Sinfonietta among others. Julius Eastman’s vocal music has been of particular interest to him with multiple performances of Prelude To The Holy Presence Of Joan D'Arc performed nationally. His own explorations involve a melding of fact and fable to piece together new recollections/imaginings of personal narrative, word games, sense and nonsense utterances, digital layering and looping to express himself. This storytelling ritual culminated in a musical release of All the Pretty Flowers on Chicago Improvised Music Catalog and the Creative Capital award has allowed him to expand on this through his project, Resolved: Critiquing Contemporary Music Through Improvised Performance.

Eva Supreme

Meet the extraordinary and versatile vocal artist, Eva Supreme, whose stunning voice has graced the stages of theater, opera, jazz, and numerous other musical genres for over a decade. With a rich and soulful timbre, Eva has captivated audiences worldwide with her powerful performances and unmatched vocal range. Hailing from a background deeply rooted in the traditions of gospel and blues, Eva seamlessly transitions between genres, infusing each with her unique flair and emotional depth. Her theatrical journey began at a young age, honing her skills in the spotlight, while her operatic prowess showcases her impeccable vocal control and classical training. Throughout her career, she has garnered critical acclaim for her ability to convey raw emotion through her music, making her a sought-after artist in the world of jazz, where improvisation and storytelling are paramount. With a decade of artistic exploration under her belt, Eva Supreme continues to push boundaries and redefine what it means to be a dynamic and genre-blending vocal artist, inspiring audiences to experience the magic of music in new and profound ways. Eva Supreme is a lover of all things soulful, the definition of a creator in the fullest way. The vocalist, composer, arranger, thespian, producer, dancer, educator, and designer has one taken to heart a quote she lives by, “The only way to do your thing is to do your thing! Listeners can expect to hear melodic & harmonic sounds of the past coupled with textured rhythms with an emphasis on movement. It’s her hope that listeners never forget how the music makes them FEEL, above all else.

Angel Bat Dawid

Angel Bat Dawid is a multi-talented Black American composer, known for her exceptional musicianship as a composer, improviser, clarinetist, pianist, vocalist, educator, and DJ. With performances at prestigious events and venues such as Newport Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall, Angel has solidified her reputation as a groundbreaking talent in the music industry. Her debut album, "The Oracle," and latest release, "Requiem for Jazz," have received critical acclaim, showcasing her innovative approach to music. As a bandleader, Angel has toured internationally with her ensemble "Tha Brothahood" and leads the all-woman ensemble, Sistazz of the Nitty Gritty. She is also a film composer for Season 2 of HBO's Random Acts Of Flyness and has contributed music commercially with Adidas and Vogue. Recognized with awards such as the 2021 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year and the John Peel "Play More Jazz" Award, Angel Bat Dawid continues to push musical boundaries and offer audiences a profound and transcendent musical experience.

Amina Norman Hawkins

Amina is now an internationally recognized voice of grassroots hip-hop activism and education. She is a writer, performing artist, filmmaker, and hip-hop practitioner who has spent 30+ years actively involved in Chicago’s hip-hop culture and community.

Amina is a co-founder of the Chicago Hip-Hop Initiative, a hip-hop community empowerment collaborative; and Chicago Hip-Hop Heritage Month, an officially recognized annual observance (since 2003) that celebrates Chicago’s local hip-hop arts and community each July. She’s also a respected emcee, poet, and founding member of Urbanized Music, a production duo of Amina & Coolout Chris, and a collective of Chicago-based true school artists who’ve performed internationally promoting the aesthetics of hip-hop culture over media hype.

Selected in 2010 to serve as a United States Cultural Envoy, Amina spent 2 weeks leading a team of 3 hip-hop artists from Chicago as they toured 7 regions of the West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire. They performed, conducted workshops, met local artists, and helped foster an understanding of American culture while encouraging young people to use hip-hop progressively. This assignment was chronicled in the independently produced documentary Keep It Moving-Chicago to Cote d’Ivoire (April 2011), which premiered to high acclaim at the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. The exchange gave birth to the creation of the Cote d’Ivoire Hip-Hop Initiative, a registered NGO committed to the same goals as its sister group in Chicago.

Amina has sat on panels alongside notables like Gloria Steinem, Fat Joe, Dr. Carol Adams, Billy Wimsatt, DMC, Bakari Kitwana, WaterFlow (Senegal), Joan Morgan, and Mc Lyte, among many other activists, entertainers, and academics. She has taken part in conferences and festivals like Hip-Hop Theater Festival (MCA, Chicago), Taking It To The Streets (Chicago), Campus Progress National Student Conference (Washington, DC), Antioch College Hip-Hop Convergence (Yellow Springs, OH), Slum Fest & Paint Louis (Saint Louis, MO), Remixing The Art Of Social Change (Chicago), and recent virtual events like Unchained Vibes Africa’s Democracy Vibes (Lagos/Virtual), and “My” Philosophy: The Rise of Hip Hop Studies in the Academy Symposium co-presented between Virginia Union University (VUU) and Virginia State University (VSU).

As a hip-hop artist, Amina has performed on stages ranging from small local nightclubs to prominent venues like Chicago's Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, Steppenwolf Theater, Navy Pier Skyline Stage, Chicago Cultural Center, The Vic Theater, and Le Palais de la Culture in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

She has presented at Northwestern, DePaul, UIC, University of Chicago Lab School, Governors State, and Northern Illinois University. Currently, she lectures, conducts workshops, and performs around the country with her group Urbanized Music. She is a part-time lecturer at SAIC and an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago where she teaches courses in the history of Hip-Hop and a survey of African American Music. Amina also played an integral role in creating the Hip-Hop Studies Minor program at Columbia College Chicago, which is now in its 5th year.

Kent R. Brooks

Kent R. Brooks (he/his/him) has dual roles at Northwestern University as the director of Religious and Spiritual Life, where he works within a team dedicated to creating an inclusive space supporting the quest for meaning and purpose, and as an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Performance Studies, where his work focuses on the language, execution, and social/historical implications of Black Gospel Music.

A seasoned church music director, worship leader, and educator, Kent is a BMI-affiliated composer who was twice the recipient of the Waljo Gospel Music Award. He was commissioned to compose and perform Heal the Land, the theme for the Raleigh-Durham area’s first observance of the Black Churches Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. Another important commission had Kent assemble a 200-voice choir to perform, Let Your Dreams Take Flight, the theme for the Special Olympics World Games. His composition, Fanfare for Celina, opened the inaugural International Igor Stravinsky Festival at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his string quintet, A Prelude for Spirituals, debuted the same year. For four seasons, Kent performed with the Greensboro (North Carolina) Symphony Orchestra as chorus master and arranger for its annual community gospel concert. In his final year, the GSO performed Kent’s original gospel ballad, You Are My Everything. This same piece was presented at the new music seminar of the 2009 Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2013, his setting of Psalm 117 was recorded by mass choir of the GMWA.

Kent debuted as a music director for the Springfield (Ohio) Arts Council for its 2013 summer presentation of Footloose: The Musical. To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, he arranged an old battle song, Hoist Up The Flag, for a special concert performed by the Springfield Symphony Chorale and Orchestra.

Before coming to Northwestern, Kent was the director of music and worship for High Street United Methodist Church in Springfield, Ohio, and he taught voice, conducted the Imani Gospel Choir, and served as chapel organist at Wittenberg University. He transcribes and arranges for The Gospel Music Workshop of America, The National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses and the Hampton University Church Music Conference. He is a former member of the Springfield Symphony Chorale, the Dayton Chapter of the GMWA, and he served on the board of the directors for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with many notables in the gospel, jazz, and classical fields, and his work as a producer, composer and instrumentalist can be heard on various local, regional, and national recordings.

Kent is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied music composition and music theory with Drs. Ingrid Arauco and Allen Anderson. He also studied classical piano, jazz piano, and voice with Dr. Linda Holtzer, Dr. Scott Warner, and Professor Stafford Wing, respectively.