Rhapsody in Black

Imani Winds have faith in music as their core value

The word "Imani" means "faith" in Swahili, a trait exemplified by the Imani Winds. Provided

Rhapsody in Black - Imani Winds


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May 18, 2023

“Imani” means “faith” in Swahili, so flutist Valerie Coleman formed Imani Winds more than 25 years ago with faith in mind. First and foremost, Coleman had faith in what a professional music ensemble could mean to underrepresented communities. She also had faith in how commissioning new works could lift the profile of BIPOC composers and performers. Across a quarter of a century, the work and influence of Imani Winds have proven that all that faith has not been misplaced.

Musical selections from Imani Winds

Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue

Afro Blue is important to Black music history because it was the first jazz standard built on a typical African 3:2 cross-rhythm, or hemiola. John Coltrane, the Doors and other popular performers would go on to cover this chart.

Valerie Coleman's Umoja

Umoja, derived from the Swahili term for "unity," is the foundational principle of the African Diaspora holiday known as Kwanzaa. Initially, it was a simple composition for a women's choir, channeling the essence of "tribal unity" reminiscent of a vibrant drum circle. This musical piece conveyed a sense of communal history through the traditional "call and response" structure, employing the power of repetition within a captivating sing-song melody.

Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Quintette en Forme de Choros

The quintet exhibits a fluid structure, comprising five expansive sections that flow seamlessly without interruption while allowing for further division into smaller subsections. The transition from one major section to the next is distinguished by distinct alterations in texture and tempo, signifying a deliberate shift in the musical landscape. At its core, the composition embraces rhythmic freedom that permeates throughout, evident in the frequent fluctuations of meter and tempo. This intentional departure from strict rhythmic constraints contributes to a sense of spontaneity, allowing the music to breathe and evolve organically. Furthermore, this rhythmic flexibility is complemented by deliberate tonal freedom, enabling exploring a wide range of harmonic possibilities.


Host: Vernon Neal

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher