Black History Month Spotlight: Amina Claudine Myers

bhm aminaAmina Claudine Myers was born in Conway County and grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  She started singing and playing the piano and organ as a child in church choirs.  Returning to Arkansas, she graduated in concert music and music education from Philander Smith College in the early 1960s. After graduation, Myers moved to Chicago where she taught music, attended classes at Roosevelt University and worked with musicians such as Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons. In 1966 she joined the AACM in Chicago, focusing on vocal compositions and arrangements, and recording her first jazz album with Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre in 1969.

In 1976 Myers relocated to New York City, where she intensified her compositional work and expanded it into the realm of Off-Broadway productions. She also continued performing and recording as a pianist and organist. In 1985 she joined Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. Notable collaborations also include recordings with Bill Laswell, Marian McPartland, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Archie Shepp, David Murray, Arthur Blythe, Frank Lowe, Leroy Jenkins, Jim Pepper and Ray Anderson.

In 1976 Amina moved to NY and became involved with the creative musicians that had migrated from Chicago and St. Louis, playing music in the lofts of NYC.  For a year she became a teacher at SUNY ((State Univ. of NY) developing the gospel chorus there.  Myers received several grants from the National Endowments for the Arts, Meet the Composer and NY Foundation for the Arts.                                                                           .

Myers began touring Europe with The Lester Bowie Quintet and The NY Organ Ensemble around 1978.  This began her European (all of Western Europe, Hungary, Turkey and Poland), Japanese, Canadian and U.S. performances of concerts, festivals and clubs as a soloist, with her trio, quartet, sextet and voice choir. This included workshops, seminars and residencies in universities and schools in the U.S. as well as Europe. Myers had the opportunity to perform in Cape Town, South Africa at The North Sea Jazz Festival with saxaphonist/composer Archie Shepp and to Accra, Ghana (West Africa) with composer/ vibraphonist Cecilia Smith during their jazz festival.

Myers’ works of blues, jazz, gospel and extended forms continues.  She teaches privately, giving lessons in theory, composition, piano, voice, organ, classical piano and assisting clients interested in stage/ performances. Amina  has  performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Iridium Club, Birdland and other sites with her groups and with other artists and still continues to perform nationally and internationally.

She is a 2001 inductee into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  For more on Amina Claudine Myers and other inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. That museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

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1 thought on “Black History Month Spotlight: Amina Claudine Myers

  1. Amina Claudine Myers was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2010. – Alita Mantels, Secretary for the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation/Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame

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