Charlotte is home to a music scene bursting with talent and creativity, and WDAV is proud to be part of it. However, the historical exclusion of BIPOC* and other marginalized communities, elitism (both perceived and real), and lack of accessibility have kept the classical music world overwhelmingly white and isolated from certain genres of music. NoteWorthy was created to bridge the divide, joining Black and brown artists with classical musicians in collaborative cross-genre performances.

WDAV began working on an idea to fund and amplify BIPOC classical musicians within Charlotte neighborhoods in early 2020. In need of a partner with deep community roots, we reached out to David “Dae-Lee” Arrington of FAIR PLAY Music Equity Initiative, an organization that advocates for fairness and inclusivity in Charlotte’s music scene. Through their guidance, the project became much stronger than the one we initially envisioned: rather than focusing on classical music, NoteWorthy pairs artists from many genres with classically trained musicians, who blend classical playing into the featured artist’s music as a team.

As the pandemic intensified, NoteWorthy pivoted to a virtual format with support from Hue House, a Black-owned, Charlotte-based creative agency. FAIR PLAY hit the ground running to identify three featured artists, and Charlotte Symphony violinist Kari Giles joined in to recruit their classical counterparts. On a single day in March 2021, we filmed NoteWorthy’s first three acts back to back, and the effect was electric: strings and piano shined within each artist’s unique textures, enhancing one another in ways we never imagined.

Since then, we’ve streamed three NoteWorthy concerts on Facebook, surpassing 15,000 views and 1,400 engagements. Two more concerts have been filmed to complete Season 1 and will be released in late 2021. On September 17, NoteWorthy will celebrate its most important milestone yet: four acts will return to present a showcase performance at the opening night of Charlotte SHOUT!, a multidisciplinary festival highlighting the city’s creativity and innovation.

Though NoteWorthy is slated to become an in-person series in 2022, we’ve learned that virtual events are a powerful tool for accessibility, and concert video will continue to be released online. We’re ready to begin NoteWorthy’s transition from the screen to the stage, working toward a Charlotte music community that values all voices.

*Black, Indigenous, and People of Color