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Josie Campbell: “After ‘Black Lives Matter’ There Was a Big Push to Start Playing Music by Underrepresented Groups”


This interview delves into the multifaceted experiences and initiatives of Josie Campbell, a dedicated cellist and postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Josie discusses her musical journey, from an unexpected start in middle school orchestra to her current endeavors at the Academy. She sheds light on her passion for promoting diversity and representation in classical music, narrating her pivotal role in founding the Black Musicians Alliance during her undergraduate studies. Her projects include a brown composer series, a Black History Month concert, and the development of a diversity task force, all aimed at amplifying the voices of underrepresented composers.

Josie emphasizes the ongoing challenges in classical music, particularly the financial barriers hindering access for individuals from lower-income communities. She calls for educational reforms to address this issue and advocates for a more inclusive approach to classical concerts to counteract elitism. Comparing the US and the UK, she observes that, post-Black Lives Matter, US conservatories exhibit a stronger commitment to playing music by underrepresented groups, whereas UK institutions, as per her observations at RAM, may lag in this regard.

The interview further explores Josie’s prestigious Marshall Scholarship, elucidating the rigorous selection process and the scholarship’s purpose of fostering UK-US relations. Additionally, Josie reflects on her connection with fellow scholarship holders in the UK and envisions future pedagogical projects, expressing a desire to continue working with organizations such as the Chineke! Orchestra. The interview concludes with Josie’s insights into the orchestra’s impactful mission, serving as an exemplary platform for musicians of color and fostering mentorship opportunities for young talents.

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music