It goes without saying that America has produced some of the most important voices in music over the past generation, but which ones would you consider among the most significant? For many it’s a question that couldn’t possibly be answered, but for one composer, it’s a question that he not only answered, but answered through his own music. Hi – I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of NoteWorthy you and I will celebrate 5 of America’s most significant voices in music, as celebrated by Mr. William Banfield.

William Banfield, or Bill, as he’s known, was born in Detroit back in 1961. After earning degrees in jazz, musical performance, and theology, he dedicated his life to Black studies, and eventually became a founding director of the Africana Studies Department at Berklee. Along the way, he completed this work: his 6th symphony. The latter movements celebrate the musical contributions of Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie. This opening movement of the work serves as an ode to the late great Leonard Bernstein.

Since writing his 6th symphony, Bill has collaborated with many other great American voices, including Quincy Jones, Tavis Smiley, and Dr. Cornel West. He’s noted among his peers as one of the greats, among his students, one of the most innovative, and over the course of history, as one of the most Noteworthy.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.

Pictured: William Banfield, by Kelly Davidson.