Chicago cellist Ayanna Williams on the importance of music education in underrepresented communities

Posted on: July 19, 2018

“On a spring evening, cellist Ayanna Williams took the stage at the South Loop’s Velvet Lounge,” writes Hannah Steinkopf-Frank in Thursday’s (7/19) Chicago Tribune. “Whether she was performing a piece by contemporary classical composer Mark Summer or covers by Cardi B, Migos and Drake, the connection between Williams and the instrument was clear…. For Williams, music education began at a young age…. She began playing with her cousins Ade (violin) and Mira Williams (violin/viola) as Sugar Strings … ‘three little girls from the South Side of Chicago playing classical music,’ she says… Outside of Sugar Strings, Williams was always the only black female cellist…. [In college] she stopped playing cello almost entirely, [feeling] ‘undervalued, underappreciated and definitely intimidated by all of the talent.’ She [has] a master’s degree in higher education [and] now works at the University of Chicago researching the criminal justice system…. She wants to increase music education in Chicago Public Schools… ‘I felt like there was a missing piece in a lot of black kids’ lives in Chicago … where they had something to look forward to outside of what they see in gangs or what they see in their friends and their families.’ ”

Posted July 19, 2018