Five artists were honored with Philadelphia City Council citations for their impact on the culture at ART en NOIR: A Celebration of Black Women in Music, held on Wednesday evening at the Art Sanctuary.
ART en NOIR was organized by Aalyah Duncan, founder and CEO of Alist Events Marketing, in honor of Black Music Month. The host committee included Haniyyah Sharpe Brown, Shonda McClain and Evon Burton.
“The purpose is to celebrate women who are making a positive impact in our community and our industry,” said Duncan. “They’ve done so much in our city, but they’re not recognized on a public stage. I felt it was time to honor them and give them their flowers while they are still with us.”
Dyana Williams, the creator and founder of Black Music Month, received a proclamation from the office of Mayor James Kenney during the festivities at the venue in South Philadelphia.
Councilman Derek Green distributed City Council citations to Sofiya Ballin, music journalist and content creator; Lady Alma, songstress and music educator; Carol Riddick, singer and president of The Recording Academy, Philadelphia Chapter; and Aja Graydon, of Kindred The Family Soul.
“Those of us who work in the music industry — let us revel in the fact that we have this wonderful music called Black music that comes from the love and the pain, the suffering of Black folks in this country and we need to continue to perpetuate it,” Williams said in brief remarks after receiving the citation.
“It is not just a great cultural source, but it is also an economic entity to the tunes of billions, people, billions of dollars,” she added.
ART en NOIR was also an opportunity for women to network, which took place throughout the entire program. Honorees were among those showing fellowship, complimenting how one has been there for the other.
Overall, this unity, they said, is key to sustaining Black music.
“What is important is that we become a little more together and I think as we become more together we will be able to support one another, encourage one another and those are the key components in making something continue to grow,” said Lady Alma.
Riddick shared a story of growing up at 15th and Bainbridge streets, where she “scrubbed” the front steps at the family house and set up pretzel and water ice stands near her family’s variety store.
“I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to this neighborhood. It raised me,” she said.
Later, she connected the importance of community to the music.
“I believe community is essential to maintain Black music — that’s who we are, that’s from where we come. That’s the root of our culture,” said Riddick. “You can’t go find that elsewhere.”
Ballin, who was recognized for her coverage of Black music, shared a similar view.
“So much of the music we hear today was born and created in Philadelphia,” she said. “As a city, we need to look at the people [here] that are so gifted and talented and really hold them up. We’re quick to hold up a lot of people from other cities, but we need to hold up our own as well.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.