Ysaÿe M. Barnwell to Be Honored at Berklee’s Urban Service Awards

By 
Colette Greenstein
March 27, 2019
Press release
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The composer and bass vocalist will receive the 2019 Legacy Award.

Ysaÿe M. Barnwell
Image courtesy of the artist

Berklee’s Community and Government Relations Department will present the 2019 Legacy Award to Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, former member of the internationally renowned African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, at the Berklee Urban Service Awards (BUSA) on Saturday, April 20.

The ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the David Friend Recital Hall, located at 921 Boylston Street, Boston, and will include live performances, special guests, and an award and scholarship presentation. The event is free and open to the public.

The Berklee Urban Service Awards celebrate community members, partner organizations, politicians, artists, and Berklee affiliates who inspire social change in the Greater Boston area. The awards are based on the principle that institutions of higher education realize their greatest potential when they serve as fully committed members of the local community. The BUSAs have also recognized the lifetime achievement and humanitarianism of inspiring local and national artists, activists, and change-makers.

Over the past 10 years, recipients have been recognized for writing songs about the Boston Marathon tragedy, teaching music to underserved youth, producing workshops to expand music education access, and volunteering to perform at senior centers. 

Barnwell will be among the more than 35 individuals honored with a Berklee Urban Service Award this year. The list of honorees also includes State Senator William N. BrownsbergerNadine Martinez, director of visual and performing arts, West End House; Kristo Kondakçi, cofounder and conductor, Eureka Ensemble; Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga, executive and artistic director, OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center; and the Wondertwins, Billy and Bobby McClain.

A joint award will also be bestowed upon Carole Charnow, president and CEO of Boston Children's Museum, and Anita Walker, executive director of Mass Cultural Council, for enriching the community by providing access to the arts across the Commonwealth through the EBT Card to Culture program. 

In addition to the BUSAs, Barnwell will be holding a residency the week of April 22 on Berklee's campus, as well as celebrating the vocal community with the special event Community Sings: Singing in the African American Tradition on Thursday, April 25. Presented and sponsored by the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the event will take place at Mary Horton Hall, located at 645 Boylston Street, Boston. The concert begins at 6:00 p.m., and will be followed by a Q&A at 7:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The goal of Community Sings is to bring people of all ages and skill levels together to create beautiful and empowering music. Led by Barnwell, singers and nonsingers alike will share the common experience of learning in the oral tradition, as well as singing rhythms, chants, and traditional songs from Africa and the diaspora. A variety of songs from African American culture, including spirituals, ring shouts, hymns, gospels, and songs from the civil rights movement will be part of the repertoire.

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