Raised in Blackwell, Arkansas, Amina Claudine Myers’ musical calling came at the age of four. At age seven she began formal piano training and, after her family moved to Dallas, Texas, she helped form a preteen gospel group and later served as choir director and pianist in several Dallas-area churches. She later returned to Arkansas where she co-founded “The Gospel Four” and “The Royal Hearts.” The groups sang gospel music and rhythm and blues in local high schools and churches.
Ms. Myers studied European concert music at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, from which she graduated with a B.A. degree in Music Education. The next stop on her musical journey was Chicago. In addition to teaching music for six year in Chicago’s public school system, Ms. Myers joined the AACM in 1966, honing her craft as a composer and performing alongside such visionary artists as pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams, percussionist Ajaramu (Jerold Donovan), reedmen Henry Threadgill, and saxophonist Kalaparusha (Maurice McIntyre). In 1970, Ms. Myers hit the road with Sonny Stitt, followed by a two and a half-year stint with The Gene Ammons Quartet.
Ms. Myers began touring Europe with the Lester Bowie Quintet and The New York Organ Ensemble in 1978. This began her European, Japanese, Canadian, and U.S. concert, festival, and club engagements as soloist, trio, quartet, sextet, and voice choir. In the late eighties, she began concerts for the pipe organ. Ms. Myers has performed in Cape Town, South Africa and at the North Sea Jazz Festival with Saxophonist/Composer Archie Shepp, and in Accra, Ghana, West Africa with composer/vibraphonist Cecilia Smith in addition to a solo performance in St. Louis, Senegal, West Africa.
Two of her larger works include: Interiors, a composition for chamber orchestra conducted by Peter Kotik and performed by S.E.M. Orchestra, produced by the AACM and performed at the NYC Society of Ethical Culture; and the Improvisational Suite for Chorus, Pipe Organ and Chorus, a piece for 16 operatic voices, pipe organ, and two percussionists. Ms. Myers was commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago to compose a composition in honor of the late pianist/composer Mary Lou William’s 100th birthday. She followed that with a commissioned composition for Baritone singer Thomas Buckner titled I Will Not Fear The Unknown.
Ms. Myers has received many awards for her contributions in music including being inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2001 and The Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2010. Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, Georgia presented her a Certificate of Citizenship of Atlanta. She has received the key to the city of Little Rock, and recognition from the A.M.E. Zion Churches of Arkansas, Delta Sigma Theta, The Alumni and Philander Smith College, The Society of Writers and Editors, and the 2017 JOY Award presented by the Jazz Organ Fellowship, San Jose, CA. She is also the recipient of multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and New York Foundation for the Arts.
Ms. Myers has eleven CDs under her name with two self-produced. Her most recent recording, SAMA ROU, honors her ancestors with a few of her favorite Negro Spirituals and improvisations for voice and piano. She continues to perform and lives in NYC where she teaches privately.
Image: Courtesy of Amina Claudine Myers.
Video of 2022 Living Legacy Jazz Award Presented by PECO Award Event
Amina Claudie Myers website: http://www.aminaclaudinemyers.com/