Nicholas Payton Wins Top Grant to Record Symphonic Work


Payton plans to revisit and re-orchestrate his first symphonic work with the goal of reorganizing it to reflect who he is today.

(Photo: Courtesy of South Arts)

Nicholas Payton has been awarded a major grant from South Arts to record The Black American Symphony, which he wrote 10 years ago.

Through the project, the Grammy-winning trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer will revisit and re-orchestrate his first symphonic work with the goal of reorganizing it to reflect who he is today. It will be recorded at Sear Sound studio in New York. The announcement marks a milestone in Payton’s career, as he continues to push the boundaries of Black American Music.

Following South Arts’ open call for applications in early 2023, more than 220 applications were reviewed by a panel of specialists in the music field on the criteria of artistic excellence, project narrative, residency outcomes, capacity and more. The panel reflected diverse racial, ethnic, gender and geographic representation as well as range of aesthetic points of view. Artists who applied were able to define their projects based on their own career’s needs and request up to $40,000 to support projects occurring between July 2023 and June 2024.

Since its establishment in 1975, South Arts has been dedicated to supporting the arts and cultural ecosystem of its nine-state region, which covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. For more information on the Jazz Road Creative Residency program or South Arts’ other programs, visit

Upcoming performances by the Nicholas Payton Band include shows at the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival on Sept. 19, San Francisco’s Black Cat Jazz Supper Club on Oct. 12–14, Gold Diggers in Los Angeles on Oct. 16 and New York’s Smoke Jazz Club on Nov. 16–19. DB

  • 23_Village_Vanguard_Joey_Baron_by_Michael_Jackson_copy.jpg

    “Bill Stewart has nothing to prove,” Baron says. “I aspire to that ethic.”

  • 23_Charles_Lloyd_1_by_Dorothy_Darr.jpg

    “At this point in my life I’m still looking for the note,” Lloyd says. “But I’m a little nearer.”

  • McBride__Kahn_copy.jpg

    ​Christian McBride and writer Ashley Kahn meet for a DownBeat Blindfold Test hosted by New York University’s Jazz Studies program.

  • Samara_Joy_%C2%A92023_Mark_Sheldon-4639.jpg

    Samara Joy brought fans to their feet in the middle of her Newport set!

  • Christian_McBride_by_Ebru_Yildiz.jpeg

    ’You can’t simply book a festival with things that you like,” Christian McBride says of the Newport Jazz Festival. “You have a responsibility to present up-and-coming artists who people don’t know yet. And you have to get people in the seats.”