Amina Claudine Myers
(New York, NY) - pipe organ
The first-wave artists comprising the AACM (Association for the
Advancement of Creative Musicians) encompassed the breadth of what
would later become the organization’s motto: “Great Black Music, From
the Ancient to the Future”. The groundbreaking initiative of
self-determining musicians was born in 1960’s Chicago, and its early
members constituted a vital nexus of musically and geographically
diverse histories and futures.
Among these first-wave artists, none expresses their deep roots in
Southern African American traditions quite like the virtuosic,
versatile and emotionally moving pianist, organist, vocalist and
composer Amina Claudine Myers
. Born in a small Arkansas town of about
250 and raised in Arkansas and Texas, Myers was only four years old
when she began playing the piano. While a teenager, the young prodigy
was directing choirs and playing organ in her Dallas area church, while
also beginning her studies of European classical piano repertoire.
Already an experienced professional when she started college, Myers
began making jazz, r&b and gospel gigs while attending Philander
Smith in Little Rock. At Philander Smith, she majored in music
education, played in a college jazz ensemble and studied classical
piano. In 1963, a public school teaching job brought Myers to Chicago.
There, she would join the AACM, while also working as accompanist to
such jazz greats as Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt.
In the AACM, the prodigious and multitalented player began working out
musical ideas of her own. It was fertile ground for development, as
Myers was among an emerging group of African American artists who would
come to be known as some of the most important experimental composers
and improvisers of their generation. Her versatility as a composer
paralleled her versatility as a performer. A commitment to vocal works
was nurtured in the early years of the AACM. It’s been a career-long
passion that has included notated and improvised solo and choral music,
with a range of instrumental combinations. She has composed for
orchestra, chamber ensembles and jazz orchestra. She has written
musicals and plays, and also acted in the theater. In addition to
being a master composer and improviser, Myers is also a valued
interpreter. A short résumé of collaborators lending credence to her
range and abilities includes Archie Shepp, Lester Bowie, Charlie Haden,
James Blood Ulmer, Muhal Richard Abrams, Eddie Harris, Anthony Braxton,
Henry Threadgill, Jim Pepper and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Nameless Sound is honored to present Amina Claudine Myers’ first Texas
appearance since her teenage years in the church. Houston audiences
will have the opportunity to hear Myers perform solo in two distinct
Bearing a voice with the depths of her gospel and the blues roots, and
accompanying herself with virtuosic piano technique, Myers has earned
critical acclaim for her voice/piano performances since her landmark
1980 release Amina Claudine Myers Salutes Bessie Smith. On Wednesday,
April 26, Myers will present a performance for voice and piano in
Sanders Hall at Christ Church Cathedral.
In recent years, Myers has increased her focus on the pipe organ, with
recitals throughout Europe and North America. On Thursday, April 27,
she will return to Christ Church Cathedral. We will join her in the
Cathedral itself, for a special offering of jazz, blues, spirituals,
gospel and improvisations on the 1938 Aeolian-Skinner Cathedral Organ.