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History of NANM

The National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. is this country’s oldest organization dedicated to the preservation, encouragement, and advocacy of all genres of the music of Black Americans. NANM had its beginning on May 3, 1919 in Washington, D.C. at a temporary initial conference of “Negro” musicians under the leadership of Henry Grant and Nora Holt. Its first national convention was held in Chicago, Illinois in the same year. Our organization is supported by people of strong cultural ideals and high musical standards, all of whom care deeply for the fine art of music and for an inclusive musical culture throughout the country.  Within NANM, members lend their support and influence—educators and professional musicians share their musical knowledge, amateurs and enthusiasts grow in their musical enjoyment, and people of all ages come together to participate in one of the most powerful forces of spiritual and cultural development and the total human experience that is music.

From the beginning, NANM has provided encouragement and support to thousands of Black American musicians, many of whom have become widely respected figures in music and have contributed significantly to American culture and music history. The organization has awarded scholarships to scores of talented young musicians throughout the country. A list of them would include such luminaries as Marian Anderson (first scholarship award recipient in 1919), William L. Dawson, Florence B. Price, Margaret Bonds, Warren George Wilson, James Frazier, Julia Perry, Grace Bumbry, Leon Bates, Joseph Joubert, Awadagin Pratt, and many, many others.


Over the years, many international personalities have been presented in performance, including  Lena Horne, Todd Duncan, John W. Work, R. Nathaniel Dett, Marian Anderson, Edward Boatner, Camille Nickerson, Clarence Cameron White, Margaret Bonds, Florence B. Price, Etta Moten, Betty Allen, Natalie Hinderas, Adele Addison, Kermit Moore, Simon Estes, George Shirley, Robert McFerrin, Shirley Verrett, Jessye Norman, Sanford Allen, Derek Lee Ragin, the Uptown String Quartet, Esther Hinds, Ruby Hinds, Wilhelmina Fernandez, the Hinds Sisters, William Warfield, Benjamin Matthews, the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers, Harolyn Blackwell, Billy Taylor, Delphin and Romain, Gregory Hopkins, and Martina Arroyo.


Clinicians and lecturers of note include Carl Diton, Warner Lawson, Frederick Hall, Kemper Harreld, Wendell Whalum, Eileen Southern, Doris McGinty, Alain Locke, Grace Bumbry, Sylvia Olden Lee, James Cleveland, Raoul Abdul, Geneva Handy Southall, Sowah Mensah, Robert Ray, Willis Patterson, Roland Carter, Brazeal Dennard, Robert Harris, and Shirley Verrett.  These notables constitute only a fraction of the many musicians, educators, scholars, and lovers of music, who constitute the musical fabric of this organization.

Mission & Purpose

Mission Statement: NANM promotes, preserves, and supports all genres of music created or performed by African-Americans.


  • The promotion of the music and the development of knowledge and appreciation of music composed by all persons, but especially those of African descent.

  • The establishment of a library where Afro-American historical information concerning composers, artists, and musicians who have contributed to the cultural and fine arts of Black people can be gathered for compilation and publication.

  • To afford a central location for the gathering and/or purchase of library collections of sheet music, compositions, and original documents from which out-of-print works may be compiled for historic use; to conduct research on the works of composers and artists of African descent and to publish or copyright the results of such research.

  • To establish a scholarship and grant on national, regional, and local levels to assist talented youth in the field of musical and/or cultural arts in education.

  • To foster a broader understanding of the contributions of persons of African descent in all fields of music and in the cultural arts.


At the forefront of NANM’s agenda are programs and activities which involve our youth membership. These include NANM’s national Junior and Youth Divisions and Campus Branches comprised of collegiate young artists from colleges and universities all over the country. These young people participate in workshops and are presented in performances throughout each annual convention week. NANM holds a national convention in a different city each year, offering our membership an opportunity to participate in workshops, seminars, lectures, masterclasses, and performances.


NANM provides assistance, performance opportunities, and Black cultural awareness to the musical public. We are concerned with all aspects of performance and education in diverse musical genres, arts management, and the varied musical interests of our members.

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