More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series
Musician extraordinaire Dom Flemons aka The American Songster. Photo credit: Nate Kinard.

Dom Flemons closes out season 2 of More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series

Celebrate Black Music Month with a free talk and concert at the CMA

7 mins read

(Columbia, SC) – The Columbia Museum of Art presents More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series Featuring Dom Flemons, the season two finale of the popular concert and conversation program, on Friday, June 23, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The evening features The American Songster himself, Dom Flemons, GRAMMY Award winner, two-time EMMY Award nominee, and 2020 United States Artists Fellow. In the pre-show conversation, series host and ethnomusicologist Dr. Birgitta Johnson and Flemons discuss his passion for storytelling through old-time music, his experiences with the award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and his current projects that champion the Black contributions to American folk music.

“For two years, the More Than Rhythm train has passed through a myriad of genres and celebrated the indelible impact of Black artists and musicians on the rich fabric of American music,” says Dr. Johnson. “From sacred music to the blues, soul to hip-hop, classical to jazz, we have experienced some of today’s most innovative and genre-expanding artists from around the country. For our season finale event at the CMA, we are pulling into our final stop and digging into the ebony roots of American folk music with The American Songster, Dom Flemons.” 

Flemons is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, music scholar, historian, record collector, and the creator, host, and producer of American Songster Radio Show on 650 AM WSM in Nashville, Tennessee. He is considered an expert player on the banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife, and rhythm bones. Co-founder of the beloved Carolina Chocolate Drops, Flemons left the group in 2014 to pursue his solo career.

In 2018, Flemons released a solo album titled Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys on Smithsonian Folkways and received a nomination for “Best Folk Album” at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. This record is part of the African American Legacy Recordings series, co-produced with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. In 2020, Flemons was selected for the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship Award for the Traditional Arts category, which was generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Available now, Traveling Wildfire is Flemons’ first new album since Black Cowboys and second for Smithsonian Folkways. In it he turns to an important, overlooked voice that he’s proudly rediscovered: his own. Flemons is on tour this year traveling across the country.

“Be it string band, old-time music or Piedmont blues, Flemons is a GRAMMY winning multi-instrumentalist and storyteller who has been a part of amplifying the often-erased contributions of African Americans to American roots music styles,” says Dr. Johnson. “As a founding member of the acclaimed Carolina Chocolate Drops and as a solo artist and board member of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, Dom is a leader in connecting people — young and old — to Black folk music pioneers in the blues and country music. His recent album Black Cowboys illuminates another hidden gem in American music and folklore — the songs and stories of the original cowboys of America’s westward expansion. Our season finale show with Dom will also be a time to thank our More Than Rhythm audience regulars who have helped the series grow and make a powerful mark in Columbia’s thriving art and music scene for the last two years.” 

Series host Birgitta J. Johnson, Ph.D, is a jointly appointed associate professor of ethnomusicology in the School of Music and African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include music in African American churches, musical change and identity in Black popular music, and community archiving. She has published articles in the Black Music Research JournalEthnomusicology ForumLiturgyOxford Bibliographies in African American Studies, and the Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Dr. Johnson’s recent publications include a chapter about 21st-century gospel archiving in The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, a chapter about gospel remixes of Beyoncé songs in Beyoncé in the World: Making Meaning with Queen Bey in Troubled Times, and sacred themes in the music of Outkast in An OutKast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Postmodern South. She has been quoted or featured in media and news outlets such as Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR, Vox, Public Radio International, and South Carolina ETV. 

A multi-instrumentalist and singer, Dr. Johnson has performed professionally and/or recorded with artists and ensembles from a variety of genres including the Southeast Symphony Orchestra of Metropolitan Los Angeles, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Francisco Aguabella’s AfroCuban Folkloric Group, and the ESPY Awards with Justin Timberlake, The O’Jays, Yolanda Adams, Talib Kweli, and BeBe Winans. At USC she teaches courses on world music, hip-hop, the blues, African music, Black sacred music, Beyoncé, and the history of ethnomusicology.

More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series Featuring Dom Flemons
Friday, June 23 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Conversation at 7:00 p.m. | Concert at 8:00 p.m.
Galleries and bar open at 6:00 p.m.
Free admission

Presented by the Baker & Baker Foundation. This program has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. This program is supported by a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation.

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