Monday, July 26, 2021– Ann Arbor, MI: In September 2019, after decades of researching and consolidating vocal works by African Diaspora composers, Dr. Louise Toppin launched the African Diaspora Music Project (ADMP) database, which currently offers nearly 4,000 songs by composers of African descent.
Toppin, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance explains: “As artists increasingly look to diversify their programming, they are faced with unexpected challenges. While living composers often update their websites, many pieces by previous generations of African Diaspora composers are not published, and it takes hours of research to find publisher information for others. This is compounded by a lack of performance history for many pieces, which have been historically underperformed, have been neglected for decades, or were never premiered.
“My father’s passion for history as a public historian–not someone who spent his time just writing works for an academic audience, but hosting television and radio shows, writing for newspapers, finding ways to reach a wide audience—has deeply informed my approach and scope for this project. It has shaped me,” Toppin stated about the legacy of her father, Edgar Allan Toppin, Sr. A public historian and an African-American professor of history specializing in Civil War, Reconstruction, and African-American history, one of his many accomplishments was becoming Board President of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, where he was instrumental in turning Black History Week into Black History Month in 1976.
Designed as a living and growing database that will strengthen as more works are submitted and discovered, African Diaspora Music Project supports Toppin’s ongoing mission to help bring this music to concert halls around the world. The database is designed with conductors and artistic administrators in mind, making it extremely user-friendly. Users can search by ensemble size and length of work, allowing them to find many pieces for their programming needs, and with perusal PDFs of scores and recordings provided whenever possible. ADMP is a free resource created as a repository for music, providing access to scores, and encouraging research, exploration and performance of new works.