Ucross and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice announced today that acclaimed musician, composer, and producer Dr. JoVia Armstrong of Charlottesville, Virginia, is the 2023 recipient of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice Partnership at Ucross award.
Created in 2022 through the vision of Kate Schutt, Ucross alumna and trustee, who studied jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music, the joint music fellowship is intended to promote equity in the jazz field by providing a female jazz musician/composer with an artist residency of up to two weeks, which includes uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains on Ucross’s historic 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a $2,000 stipend.
Armstrong, the second-ever recipient of the fellowship, is an award-winning percussionist, educator, sound artist, composer, and producer, as well as an assistant professor of music at University of Virginia. Her work fuses various genres, including experimental hip-hop, improvisational jazz and technology, with concepts from Black studies, contemplative science, feminism, and environmental studies.
She experienced her Ucross residency in late April.
“My stay at Ucross gave me the time and space to work on compositions for upcoming projects without outside distractions,” Armstrong said. “The live/work space allowed me to put my phone on DND, work a few hours, and then sit on a comfortable couch to read or even nap after hours of heavy creative thinking. I would repeat the process throughout the day. This way of creating feels better than working under stressful conditions where I'm working against time or I have a lack of space and resources.”
“Ucross was honored to welcome Dr. JoVia Armstrong to Wyoming to celebrate her achievements and support her creative process,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice to champion women in jazz by providing time and space for the creation of new work.”
“It is my honor to award Dr. JoVia Armstrong an artistic residency as part of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice’s partnership with Ucross,” said Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “Dr. Armstrong is a tremendous percussionist, artist, producer, and educator — someone we can all learn from and view as an example of the power and inspiration that can happen when scholarship and creativity in music merge. I cannot wait to see the results of her residency and all that we will learn from it.”
In 2015, Armstrong was named Best Black Female Percussionist of the Year by the Black Women in Jazz Awards. Between recording and touring internationally, she has performed with groups such as Omar, El DeBarge, Les Nubians, Maysa, Eric Roberson, Frank McComb, Rahsaan Patterson, Black Earth Ensemble, and Musique Noire. Armstrong serves as the secretary for the world-renowned AACM and is endorsed by Sabian, QSC and GonBops. The Antidote Suite, an album deriving from her dissertation work featuring her group Eunoia Society, received critical acclaim in Jazziz Magazine, Downbeat, Jazz Times, and the New York Times, among others.