Columbia Museum of Art receives Connected Communities Grant Award from Central Carolina Community Foundation

May 11, 2022

Grant to support More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series 

The Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) announces it has been selected as a recipient of a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF). The $50,000 award will support More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series, hosted by Dr. Birgitta Johnson.

Black music represents one of the oldest and broadest rivers that pours into America’s sonic ocean. The history that the music of Black Americans affirms is key to its enduring popularity and influence across lines of race, gender, age, class, and language. More Than Rhythm celebrates the ways music has historically brought us together and takes participants on a journey through several eras of Black musical expressions, finding common ground and nurturing a deep appreciation of Black music traditions. All experiences take place at the museum.

“We are so thankful for CCCF’s support of More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series,” says CMA Manager of Engagement Wilson Bame, who leads the program. “This grant gives us some exciting opportunities for this series, like offering free admission, and we can’t wait for more music lovers and learners to experience it!”

More Than Rhythm premiered March 5, 2022, with a program featuring Dr. Tony McNeill and The Heritage Celebration Chorale, who performed a sampling of diverse sacred choral textures that exist in the Black sacred music tradition. On April 29, the second program of the series focused on America’s first global pop style in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month. Guest artist Mimi Jones spoke with Dr. Johnson and assistant professor of jazz at UofSC Dr. Colleen Clark about the vibrant roots and genre-merging futures of jazz before Jones and her band The Black Madonna took the stage.

On Friday, June 3, the third program of the series will feature SC Lowcountry native and consciousness-raising hip-hop artist Benny Starr. After a sit-down with Dr. Johnson, the recent US Water Alliance Artist-in-Residence performs with a full band to help celebrate Black Music Month. The night prior, the CMA will offer a free screening of Benny Starr’s newest film project, Restoration: A Concert Film, presented by his hip-hop group, Native Son.

More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series will continue through 2023; more programs will be announced shortly.

With More Than Rhythm, the CMA presents live concerts and discussions to educate the public and foster dialogue around racial inequality and under-representation. This series represents a critical step as the CMA aims to expand diverse programming and to facilitate constructive conversations beyond the art on the walls. The project consists of concerts, lectures, films, community discussions, workshops, and popular CMA Binder podcast interviews. To further expand access and impact, the CMA will offer free admission for all More Than Rhythm concert programs. Altogether, with CCCF’s support, this series will raise public awareness of the region as a more livable, equitable, and just community in which to live, work, and play.

CCCF, the Midlands’ leader in collaborative philanthropy, awarded Connected Communities grants totaling $366,704 to 12 nonprofit organizations. “We are proud to award Connected Communities grants to these outstanding organizations,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “Their innovative projects will enhance their community’s quality of life and provide support to underserved residents.”


About the CMA   

The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning and community enrichment for all. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, S.C., the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the CMA and its programs is its collection, which encompasses 7,000 works and spans 5,000 years of art history. Established in 1950, the CMA now welcomes more than 150,000 visitors annually and is a catalyst for community creativity and education, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is the recipient of a National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education, a National Park Foundation Award, and two Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. In order to serve even more audiences, the CMA underwent a transformation. Funded by a successful capital campaign, the two-year renovation project garnered new collection galleries with a progressive thematic layout, new studios for artmaking, cutting-edge program and event spaces, and an entrance on Main Street. Overall, more than 20,000 square feet of functional space were added to the building’s existing footprint. To learn more, visit