Black music represents one of the oldest and broadest rivers that pours into America’s sonic ocean. Whether it be in pop or rock, classical or hip-hop, the history that the music of Black Americans affirms is key to its enduring popularity and influence across lines of race, gender, age, class, and even language.
More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series aims to tell stories of that influence and celebrate the ways music has historically brought us together. Hosted by ethnomusicologist Dr. Birgitta Johnson, this series takes you on a musical journey through several eras of Black musical expressions. Through live musical performances and intimate educational opportunities, audiences will find common ground and nurture a deep appreciation of Black music traditions.
Join the Columbia Museum of Art and Dr. Johnson to explore different subjects, genres, and conversations. All experiences take place at the CMA and involve renowned musicians, cultural scholars, community discussion, and the celebration of Black music!
Presented by the Baker & Baker Foundation. This program is supported by a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation.
Meet Birgitta J. Johnson
Birgitta J. Johnson, Ph.D, is a jointly appointed associate professor of ethnomusicology in the School of Music and African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include music in African American churches, musical change and identity in Black popular music, and community archiving. She has published articles in the Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology Forum, Liturgy, Oxford Bibliographies in African American Studies, and the Grove Dictionary of American Music.
Her most recent publications include a chapter about 21st-century gospel archiving in The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, a chapter about gospel remixes of Beyoncé songs in Beyoncé in the World: Making Meaning with Queen Bey in Troubled Times, and sacred themes in the music of Outkast in An OutKast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Postmodern South. She has been quoted or featured in media and news outlets such as Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR, Vox, Public Radio International, and South Carolina ETV.
A multi-instrumentalist and singer, she has performed professionally and/or recorded with artists and ensembles from a variety of genres including the Southeast Symphony Orchestra of Metropolitan Los Angeles, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Francisco Aguabella’s AfroCuban Folkloric Group, and the ESPY Awards with Justin Timberlake, The O’Jays, Yolanda Adams, Talib Kweli, and BeBe Winans. At UofSC she teaches courses on world music, hip-hop, the blues, African music, Black sacred music, Beyoncé, and the history of ethnomusicology.
20 / August
Art Class: Cigar Box Guitars
Saturdays, August 20 and 27 | 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.SOLD OUT Build your own cigar box guitar in this two-day workshop in celebration of More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series Featuring Adia Victoria. Learn how to design your own headstocks and sound holes, then assemble and string your creation. Taught by Anthony Walker of Southpaw Cigar Box Guitars, which crafts guitars using modern materials and techniques rooted in old blues traditions of creating musical instruments from whatever materials were available.
26 / August
More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series Featuring Adia Victoria
Friday, August 26 | Galleries and bar open at 6:00 p.m. | Conversation at 7:00 p.m. | Concert at 8:00 p.m.More Than Rhythm returns for its second season with a special performance from South Carolina native and globally recognized blues musician Adia Victoria. On break from her world tour, Victoria joins host and ethnomusicologist Dr. Birgitta Johnson to discuss her journey as an eclectic 21st-century blues artist before taking the stage with guitarist Mason Hickman. Free.
08 / December
More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series Featuring Nicole Neely and The Black Exchange
Thursday, December 8, 2022 Galleries and bar open at 6:00 p.m. | Conversation at 7:00 p.m. | Concert at 8:00 p.m.Violinist-arranger-composer-conductor and Columbia, S.C., native Nicole Neely joins us for a concert celebrating the impact and influence of Black composers and musicians in American classical music. Neely and her string quartet, The Black Exchange, perform a range of pieces showcasing the diversity of today’s art music scene.
02 / February
More Than Rhythm Listening PartyAs part of Free First Thursday at the CMA and in celebration of Black History Month, enjoy a funk and soul listening party with DJ Lady Marauder spinning vinyl records that were the backdrop and heartbeat of the Black Film Renaissance of the 1960s and ’70s.
03 / February
More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series Featuring The Mahoganëë Xperience
Friday, February 3, 2023 Galleries and bar open at 6:00 p.m. | Conversation at 7:00 p.m. | Concert at 8:00 p.m.Mahoganëë is a South Carolina Lowcountry soul musician whose unique style, deemed “Funky Organik Soul,” is a blend of Southern soul, funk, jazz, blues, and hip-hop with African and Caribbean influences created by her husband, music producer André Amigér.