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DuBois Conference Celebrates African-American Music, Jones

By Amber L. Ramage

Harvard's W.E.B. DuBois Institute is currently hosting a major conference in Paris on African-American music and its relationship to Europe.

The conference, which was scheduled to last from April 24 until today, will culminate by honoring composer and producer Quincy Jones, according to a statement from the DuBois Institute.

The French Ministry of Culture will award Jones the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, grade de Officier--or Distinguished Arts and Letters Award at the level of Officer.

The "April in Paris" conference, which is being held at the Sorbonne, will also feature more than 100 academic papers and a multitude of musical performances.

"We are thrilled to return to Paris in order to celebrate what is, without question, the home-away-from-home for African-American musicians," Gates said in the statement.

"It will also be a deep and moving experience to honor Quincy Jones, who is not only a pioneer in African-American music but also someone who is emblematic of the cross-cultural relationship which this conference recognizes and celebrates," he said.

Jones is best known as the producer of Michael Jackson's multi-platinum albums,Off the Wall, Bad and Thriller--the best-selling album ever with over 40 million copies sold.

Jones, who first went to Paris in 1951 while a trumpet player and arranger for the Lionel Hampton band, later moved there in 1957 and studied with the famed Nadia Boulanger.

"I am very pleased to be a part of this wonderful conference, and honored beyond words to receive the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres," Jones said in the release.

"This conference signals a new age--one which allows the magic and history of Paris, as well as the academic power of Harvard and the Sorbonne, to come together to honor and celebrate African-American music," he said.

Jones recently had a visiting assistant professorship in African-American music endowed in his name.

Among some of the notable paper topics to be presented at the conference are "Theory, Black Music and Europe," "European Culture's Impact on Black Music, Rap Music and Europe," "The African-American Influence in England" and "Paris, Site of African-American Musical Elaboration"

Musical performances will cover a wide range of tastes, including gospel opera, jazz, rap, blues and classical music. Some entertainers slated to perform at the conference are the company Opera/Columbus, country blues singer and musician John Jackson and violinist Nicole Cherry, accompanied by vocalist Edward McGhee.

The conference is sponsored by Fletcher Asset Management, Inc. and Warner Brothers Records.

"We are proud to sponsor' April in Paris' and we expect the conference to generate the highest level of scholarship, celebration, discussion and performance of African-American music and dance," said Alphonse Fletcher Jr. '87, CEO and President of Fletcher Asset Management.

Fletcher, a longtime supporter of the arts, endowed a university professorship last week at the age of 30.

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