Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : National Association of Negro Musicians
National Association of Negro Musicians

National Association of Negro Musicians

The National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM), headquartered in Chicago, is dedicated to conserving concert music traditions within the African American community. Founded in 1919, NANM grew from concerns on the part of black artists, critics, and patrons that communal music traditions such as the spirituals were being corrupted by vaudeville and popular recordings from the early twentieth century. The association also championed the idea of innate artistic genius within the black race, making it an important advocate of African American contributions to national life and culture during an era of scientific racism and public derogation of blacks. NANM provided an anchor for a national training system for black concert musicians: universities, including Tuskegee and Hampton, as well as high schools, such as Dunbar (Washington DC) and Wendell Phillips (Chicago), worked closely with the organization, while association dues and outside grants underwrote scholarships and awards for young artists. Among those receiving association support early in their careers were vocalist Marian Anderson, songwriter Billy Strayhorn, opera singer Leontyne Price, and pianist Joseph Joubert. NANM boasted four local chapters by the 1940s. The group has maintained branches in cities and states throughout the country, and continues to be headquartered in Chicago, with two chapters still active locally.

Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College, Chicago.
Patterson, Willis Charles. “A History of the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM): The First Quarter Century, 1919–1943.” Ph.D. diss., Wayne State University. 1993.
Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History. 1981.