Violinist Jessica McJunkins receives $20K award from UNCSA

Posted on: June 8, 2020

Two alumni of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), violinist Jessica McJunkins and dancer Olivia Mead, have each been awarded $20,000 Alumni Artpreneur of the Year Awards from the institution. It is the third annual year for the awards, which support creative and innovative projects and enterprises. McJunkins’s award will support her work as a cultural equity contractor for artists of color. Mead’s award for creative enterprise will sustain her nonprofit organization, YogaShield Yoga For First Responders, which is currently providing free online stress-relieving tools for first responders during the pandemic. In her work, McJunkins strives to change the standard of hiring and the demographic of freelance music performers in America by placing artists of color on stage as performers. In 2019, she contracted three separate ensembles for the opening of The Shed in New York. She leads the string section of Baltimore’s Soulful Symphony; is co-artistic director and concertmaster of the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra in New York City; is a regular Los Angeles session musician; and performs in Beyoncé’s band. McJunkins was head teacher and 2016 Teacher of the Year with the Harmony Program in New York. She is currently a teaching artist with the Harlem Chamber Players.