I must also add that, like the opera Omar that I discussed in my last post, musical perceptions of African American musical identity are constantly changing to promote greater visibility in performative spaces often deemed socially excluded. Consider works like Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2017 rap album DAMN and Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop: the Pulitzer Prize-winning and 2022 Tony-winning musical that openly explores Black Queer identity and trauma. Consider, too, the importance of the efforts behind the Los Angeles-based group the Re-Collective Orchestra. Since their establishment in 2018 by Matt Jones and Stephanie Matthews, the ensemble aims for greater inclusiveness and representation within both the classical and popular music realms, as many of the orchestra members had initially collaborated on the film score to the 2018 Marvel film Black Panther.
One must also not forget the constant musicological research concerning Black and African diasporic composers to expand the knowledge and repertoire beyond Scott Joplin and William Grant Still. In many instances, that involves searching for works from farther back in time beyond the twentieth century. Musicologists have recently rediscovered pieces of the musical legacy from the Afro-Portuguese Renaissance composer Vicente Lusitano (born circa 1520). In addition to composing choral works, serving as a Catholic Priest, and later converting to Protestantism, Lusitano also wrote extensively about Western Music Theory and Acoustics. His sacred choral pieces, like the motet Inviolata, integra, et casta es from 1551, employ the polyphonic vocal writing of the era while still maintaining tonality: in this case, using a musical texture of eight voices. Several compositions by Vicente Lusitano, which have been restored and notated by Samuel Brannon, are currently available to the public via the IMSLP musical score website.