Originally published Aug. 11, 2022
For more than 25 years, Floyd has been at the forefront of advancing jazz which centers on theology, history, and justice
PHILADELPHIA – Community College of Philadelphia has announced Ruth Naomi Floyd as the finalist for its Artist in Residence (AIR) program. The year-long residence is a new collaboration between the College’s Music Department and Spring Garden Records – the College’s record label – and will serve as a public facing art initiative engaging students and the public through experiential learning opportunities.
A vocalist and composer, Floyd has created a discography dedicated to the jazz expression. For more than 25 years, she has been at the forefront of creating vocal jazz settings that express theology, history, and justice.
A soaring mezzo-soprano, Floyd has recorded and performed with notable instrumentalists such as James Newton, James Weidman, Gary Thomas, Craig Handy, John Patitucci, Terri Lyne Carrington, George Cables, Bobby Watson, Matthew Parrish, Aaron Graves, Mark Prince, Diane Monroe, Bryan Carrott, and Bobby Zankel.
“The College is overjoyed to have Ruth Naomi Floyd as our very first artist-in-residence,” said Dr. David E. Thomas, College vice president for Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement and manager of Spring Garden Records. “Her career accomplishments reflect the quintessential blend of art, social justice, and academics that perfectly align with our mission as the City’s college. I am confident that our entire College community will be enhanced as a result of her year-long residency with us.”
As part of the AIR program, Floyd will participate in guest lectures, performances, masterclasses, and panel discussions, as well as complete a release for Spring Garden Records. All of the recordings for the project will occur at the College’s recording studio as part of the residence with students and other artists on the label in attendance. The residence is set to run from July 1 to June 30, 2023.
"I am excited to be appointed as the inaugural Artist-in-Residence of the Community College of Philadelphia,” said Floyd. “As a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, I have witnessed the College’s strong presence in both our city and nation. Their academic excellence, commitment to diversity, and resources highlight the dedication and care that the College has devoted to the people of Philadelphia for the past fifty-seven years. I am looking forward to being a member of this beautiful collaborative body as I share my knowledge and experiences and listen to the students’ inspiring ideas.”
She added, “It will bring me great joy to record a new body of work with Spring Garden Records. The residency will provide endless creative possibilities for the College, and I am honored to be a part of this powerful artistic journey."
A committed music educator, Floyd is the first African American woman to serve as founding director of a university Jazz Studies program in the United States. She served as director of Jazz Studies at Cairn University and is an adjunct professor at Temple University. In addition, she taught music education and ensembles for twenty-one years at The City School in Philadelphia.
“We’re so excited to be kicking off our residency program with such an established artist as Ms. Floyd,” said Paul Geissinger, head of the College’s Music Department and director of Spring Garden Records. “Her dedication to her craft as well as social justice speaks to our College community.”
A multi-award-winning artist, Floyd has been honored with the 2020-21 Best Vocal Recital Award at the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards; named one of NPR Music's Best Live Sessions of 2021 for her work with the Orrin Evans Trio; awarded the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Jazz Residency for her 2019-20 season with poet Charles Lattimore Howard; honored with the 2021 Arts and Business Council Leadership Award; she is currently a Mutual Mentorship for Musicians 2021 Commission Cohort member; and has been named a 2022 Lincoln City Fellow through the Speranza Foundation.
In December 2019, Concordia College New York awarded Floyd with an Honorary Doctorate for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work.