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Lizzo Donates to Amplify Diversity in Classical Music

By Michael Vincent on June 26, 2023

Pop star and classical flutist Lizzo has recently donated $50,000 to the Sphinx Organization, a group dedicated to amplifying the voices of Black and Latinx artists in the classical music world​​.

What’s behind the donation?

It’s all part of Lizzo’s Fourth Annual Juneteenth Giveback, which supports grassroots Black organizations​.

Lizzo also launched the Sasha Be Flooting scholarship with a $50,000 donation aimed at supporting Black music students at her alma mater at the University of Houston.

The funding comes in the wake of the League of American Orchestra’s 2023 report, which paints a very real picture of underrepresentation by people of colour in orchestras in the US.

Image via League of American Orchestras’ 2023 Diversity in the Orchestra Field report

Current stats? About 21 percent of orchestras employ people of colour — up from 14 percent in 2014. And as for Black representation? A mere 0.6 percent increase over the last decade, from 1.8 percent in 2014 to 2.4 percent in 2023​​.

Image via League of American Orchestras’ 2023 Diversity in the Orchestra Field report

In contrast, diversity on the conductor’s podium has seen remarkable growth, with the number nearly doubling from 16.2 percent in 2014 to 31.7 percent in 2023. An example is Jonathon Heyward, the Baltimore Symphony’s new music director, who happens to be the first person of colour to take on that role in the orchestra’s 106-year history.

What’s next: Sphinx is set to “ignite new opportunities and transform lives”​. With almost 150 Black and brown musicians placed in orchestras in their 25-year history, and several programs in place supporting diverse musicians and arts administrators, Sphinx is already making an impact.

Michael Vincent
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