BlackNotes is a music ensemble based in Washington, DC that offers a uniquely attractive brand of music and cultural art. With its dynamic blend of soulful singing and spoken word with insightful, uplifting and progressive messages rooted in African-American and African heritage, along with rich, full musical instrumentation that includes funky grooves, jazzy horns and spicy African drumming, plus interpretive dance, BlackNotes provides an artistically appealing music-message combination.
BlackNotes’ repertoire includes music of several different genres, including R&B/soul, jazz and afrobeat, but some of its music defies classification in a pre-existing genre, which led the group to coin a new genre label—SWARM (Spoken Word; African Rhythms; Melodies)—to describe some of BlackNotes’ unique, original compositions, such as “Living Rhythm”, a signature tune from their acclaimed CD entitled “Legacy”. Legacy has gotten rave reviews from listeners and has been in steady rotation on WPFW, 89.3 FM, since its release in the Fall of 2010.
BlackNotes has delivered audience-pleasing performances and received standing ovations at most of DC’s premier venues, including Blues Alley, The Lincoln Theatre, The Carter Barron Amphitheater, Howard University’s Crampton Auditorium, and the historic Bohemian Caverns, where they have been appearing on a regular basis since May 2011.
A few testimonials from audience members who experienced the BlackNotes performance at the Carter Barron Amphitheater headlining a 2011 tribute to Gil Scott-Heron are as follows:
- “Your band is truly awesome, powerful, and spirited. Black music is so healing and nourishing to our spirit when done correctly. I was in the audience at the Carter Barron and I loved every minute of your performance.”
- “Great performance at the Carter Barron. Such a powerful tribute. So glad to have the privilege to witness your artistry…”
- “Fantastic and powerful performance at the Carter Barron…”
BlackNotes consists of the following experienced and talented artists: pianist/keyboardist James McKinney, saxophonist Antonio Parker, trombonist Reginald Cyntje; vocalists Michelle Chatman, Nina Harley, Bashea Imana and Kaba Soulsinger; bassist David White; drummers/percussionists Daruba Kenyatte, Mahiri Keita, Kofi Handon; dancer Jessica Smith, and poet/spoken word artist Lasana, who is also the group’s founder and director.