For the first time in its 84 years, the National Association of Negro Musicians is holding its annual convention in Iowa this weekend. The University of Northern Iowa is hosting the event, pulling in black musicians and performers from all across the nation. Dr. Darryl Taylor, a U-N-I music professor, is helping organize the event which features all sorts of music and music education. There’s a master class by baritone Mark Rucker, organ competitions, a lecture/recital on music for organ by black composers, even a demo on Cuban drumming styles. Taylor is director of U-N-I’s George Walker Society, a student music group which focuses on better interracial communication. He says Iowa isn’t traditionally known for its black musicians so it’s a welcome change that the National Association of Negro Musicians has recognized Iowa and Cedar Falls. George Walker was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music and was the first black concert pianist to have professional management in the U.S. Among the many performers and musicians on the U-N-I campus, Taylor too may be doing a little singing this weekend. The association was formed in 1919 and is the oldest organization dedicated to the preservation, encouragement and advocacy of all genres of African-American music. The group awards scholarships to young musicians, including three now at U-N-I. The conference started Thursday and runs through today (Saturday).
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