The University of Georgia Performing Arts Center will celebrate Black excellence by featuring performances from prominent African American musicians throughout their 25th anniversary season.
Jeffrey Martin, director of the UGA Performing Arts Center, said the selection of Black performers and musicians is in part a harkening back to Jessye Norman’s 1996 performance christening the new facility at the Center’s opening gala. Norman was a legendary soprano and a Black Georgia native.
“I just wanted to take that opportunity to showcase diversity in our programming and welcome people of all types to our performances,” Martin said.
The Performing Arts Center’s overarching theme this season is “gather and celebrate,” intended to reunite audiences and performers after a long separation due to the pandemic, according to Martin.
“There are very special things that happen when we sit together in a concert hall and experience music or dance or theater together,” Martin said. “I want us to be able to come together and have that experience again.”
Artists from a variety of genres will be featured. On Nov. 16, Charleston-based band Ranky Tanky will perform “Southern Journey: An Afro-Americana Celebration!” with special guest Dom Flemons twice, at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Flemons, a folk artist known as the “American Songster” for his mastery of early American popular music, said he is pleased to have the opportunity to represent African American folk music in his performance. Flemons said he sees folk music as “important pieces of the African diaspora.”
Flemons said he believes it is important to place the music he performs in its historical context and enjoys the storytelling aspect of his performances.
“We’ve had such an outcry for more representation of African American history, and to be able to present these stories allows people to hear the stories and it enriches their lives,” Flemons said.
The center will also feature classical music performances from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Pacifica Quartet, as well as jazz and a cappella performances from other groups in the winter and spring.
The center’s 25th Anniversary Gala on April 24, 2022, will feature a performance from Broadway, film, television star and Tony award-winning performer Audra McDonald singing a mix of Broadway songs, selections from the Great American songbook and other pieces.
Tickets for the Performing Arts Center’s upcoming lineup of performances can be purchased on the center’s website, and discounted tickets are available for UGA students.