The Mission of the Arkansas Center for Black Music is to advance the research, development, and dissemination of Black Music, to develop leaders and scholars, and to center Black music in academic, professional, and community music spaces thereby dismantling systemic racism and cultural hegemony in American Music Culture.


Our Purpose

Most forms of authentic American music are rooted in Black music of some kind. Black Gospel music – a result of the merging of American Christianity and the music brought to America by Black Africans of the Diaspora – is particularly linked to many of the social and cultural movements in the state of Arkansas. Because of the historical racial tension in the Delta region, Gospel music has served to influence the lives of Black Arkansans for centuries. Historically, however, the performance of most music of African origin has traditionally been deemed ineligible for quality academic study. In modern music programs, there is a growing trend among educators to work toward effectively including all genres of music in the educational setting. The National Standards of Music Education and the National Core Arts Standards mandate that music educators teach music relative to history and culture, and that singing and playing instruments—whether alone or with others—encompasses a varied repertoire of music. The University of Arkansas Center for Black Music is a collaboration between the Department of Music and the African and African American Studies Program.



Graduate Degree in Black Sacred Music

The Master of Music in Black Sacred Music is a three-year, summers-only program housed within the Department of Music. The program offers a unique opportunity for advanced study in Black Sacred Music and its derivatives.

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Research & Publications

As the study and practice of Gospel Music has become more prevalent in Europe, Asia, and South America, we believe that a specialty in Black Sacred Music, specifically Gospel Music, will allow us to create opportunities for academic study in the field and fill a significant deficit in music programs the world over.

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Esteemed Faculty

Faculty for the program include full-time and part-time Department of Music faculty, along with an extraordinary group of special guest instructors. These guests will be appointed as adjunct faculty in the Department of Music, and they include: recording artists, scholars, Grammy-winners, and other international experts in Gospel Music.

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Events & Performances

Join the Arkansas Center for Black Music faculty and students for events and performances affiliated with the center and degree at the U of A and in our community.



Thursday, April 13
Lewis E. Epley Band Building, room 123

  • 9:30-10:45 a.m.: Jazz Clinic with Michael Wolff

U of A Black Box Theatre

  • 4-5 p.m.: "On That Note" A Life in Jazz: Michael Wolff Lecture and Interview
  • 5-6 p.m. Voices Ensemble
  • 7:30 p.m.: Latin American Ensemble
  • 9:30 p.m.: UARK Jam Session open to the public

Friday, April 14
Faulker Center for the Performing Arts

  • 3:30-4 p.m.: U of A World Music Ensemble
  • 4:15-4:45 p.m.: U of A Int. Jazz Combo
  • 5-5:30 p.m.: Farmington HS
  • 5:45-6:15 p.m.: Bentonville HS
  • 6:30-7 p.m.: Prairie Grove HS
  • 7:30 p.m.: U of A Jazz faculty and UARK Festival Jazz Orchestra featuring Michael Wolff

Saturday, April 15
Thaden School Auditorium, Bentonville

House Band: Claudia Burson Trio

  • Time — School — Director
  • 10-10:30 a.m. — Arkansas Arts Academy — Patrick Sallings
  • 10:45-11:15 a.m. — Gravette HS — Aaron Ray
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon — Washington Junior High — Jared Jones
  • 12:15-12:45 p.m. — Bentonville West HS — Katelyn Barry
  • 1-1:30 p.m. — NWACC — Paul Price
  • 1:45-2:15 p.m. —       
  • 2:30-3 p.m. — Fayetteville HS — Jason Marshall           
  • 3:15-4:45 p.m. — U of A Advanced Jazz Combo— Rick Salonen  
  • 5-5:30 p.m. — Don Tyson School of Innovation — Zach Brown   
  • 5:45-6:15 p.m. — Rogers HS— Rob Kain        
  • 7:30 p.m. — U of A Jazz Orchestra featuring Michael Wolff


UARK Signature Jazz Series