Kennedy Center names director of hip-hop culture Simone Eccleston is coming from New York’s Harlem Stage | African-American News and Black History

All Day, Simone Eccleston, Yasiin Bey -

Kennedy Center names director of hip-hop culture Simone Eccleston is coming from New York’s Harlem Stage

All Day, Simone Eccleston, Yasiin Bey -

Kennedy Center names director of hip-hop culture Simone Eccleston is coming from New York’s Harlem Stage

The Kennedy Center is doing what most of America hasn’t done in pretty much forever: listening to a black woman. On Wednesday, the performing arts venue named Simone Eccleston as its first director of hip-hop culture and contemporary music.

Simone Eccleston will begin her Kennedy Center role on March 13.

Simone Eccleston will begin her Kennedy Center role on March 13.

Aurora Fiorentino Scerbo

“With the Kennedy Center serving as the preeminent home for our nation’s arts and culture, the creation of a programmatic platform for hip-hop culture is deeply significant,” Eccleston said in a statement, according to NBC4 in Washington, D.C. “It is also an important catalyst for community-building, activism and empowerment.”

You may recall that last year, the center named A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip as its first artistic director for hip-hop culture. Who knows how these two roles will overlap, but Eccleston is coming from Harlem Stage in New York, where it commissioned work such as Meshell Ndegeocello’s Can I Get a Witness? The Gospel of James Baldwin.

Over the years, the traditionally fancy center has made incredible strides in opening up its performance and creative avenues to less traditional outlets. Hip-hop acts are now a regular mainstay on the Millennium Stage, so when Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, announced that he’d been doing one of his final U.S. shows there, it wasn’t entirely surprising. Last year, it even erected a skate park outside of the building as part of the Finding A Line skateboard, music and media festival. (Warning: explicit language in video below.)

It’s not just hip-hop, either. The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which was created by President Barack Obama and heavily promoted by first lady Michelle Obama, is still under White House purview. Earlier this year, the center brought world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Bunker Hill Elementary School to play with orchestra students as part of an outreach effort with a group called Turnaround Arts — which started at PCAH under and has moved to the Kennedy Center — looks to give underprivileged kids chances to excel in the arts.

KenCen stays woke.


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