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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Grammy-Award Winning Musician Terri Lyne Carrington Headlines Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture

Carrington will discuss her distinguished musical career and social justice work.

March 12, 2021, by Dan Bernardi

Terri Lyne Carrington
The 38th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture will feature a conversation with Grammy-award winner Terri Lyne Carrington. (Photo by Tracy Love)

As the nation continues to come to grips with racism and gender inequity, music can be a powerful tool for addressing social injustice and other pervasive problems in American culture. The Syracuse University community can expand their understanding of these issues at a virtual event featuring one of today’s preeminent musicians talking about her experience being a “freedom fighter through music.”

The Department of African American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences will host acclaimed jazz drummer, composer, producer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington for its 38th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture. Carrington, a 2021 recipient of the highest jazz honor in the U.S., the NEA Jazz Masters, is a multiple Grammy Award–winner who has recorded and toured with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. She also recently worked as a musical and cultural consultant on the Disney/Pixar animated movie Soul. In 2014, Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy Award in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue and was nominated in the same category again this year for her album, Waiting Game.

The event will be moderated by musician and assistant professor of African American studies James Gordon Williams, who says attendees can look forward to discussions that cover her past recorded work and her ongoing projects in the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, where she is founder and artistic director. The mission of the institute is to recruit, teach, mentor and advocate for musicians seeking to study jazz, with gender justice and racial justice as guiding principles.

Noted for her social justice work across gender and race, the Syracuse event is titled, “The Waiting Game: Social Science Music in Turbulent Times.” According to Williams, their conversations will explore Carrington’s musical critiques of racism, gender inequity, patriarchy in jazz culture, and other issues.

Williams says, “Terri Lyne Carrington has long been what pianist Stanley Cowell would call a ‘champion of culture’ and a freedom fighter through her music. She is working to institutionalize inclusivity and diversity that supports all musicians, but especially those who have been marginalized for who they are in the world.”

Carrington’s activism and music is featured in Williams’ recent book, Crossing Bar Lines: The Politics and Practices of Black Musical Space (University Press of Mississippi, March 2021). In it, Williams underscores the cultural work being done by five creative musicians, including Carrington, who is highlighted in the book’s third chapter.

The webinar is scheduled for March 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and registration is open to the public. Williams’ conversation with Carrington will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

The event is led by the Department of African American Studies, and co-sponsored by the Departments of Women's and Gender Studies and Art and Music Histories.