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DGF is focused on the intersection of social justice, American history, and the arts. Deeply inspired by the achievements of America’s hidden musical figures, the foundation is invested in doing research and educating the public about their remarkable stories of courage and persistence. From enriching our musical heritage to preparing the diverse pool of tomorrow’s vocal stars, DGF will positively impact how artists are valued in this nation, encouraging inclusive opportunity, access, and advocacy for the next generation.



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JUNE 17, 2024
Babcock Presbyterian Church

A Juneteenth Concert

A Juneteenth concert of art songs, arias, and spirituals celebrating African-American composers performed by soprano Simone Brown, tenor Kevin Webb Jr., and pianist JoyAnne Amani

 JUNE 19, 2024
St. John the Baptist Church

A Juneteenth Concert

The Howard County Center of African American Culture and the Denyce Graves Foundation present a Juneteenth concert celebrating African American composers and performers of art songs, spirituals, and gospel music. Featuring mezzo-soprano Mia Athey, tenor Aaron crouch, tenor Kevin Webb Jr., pianist JoyAnne Amani, & St. John the Baptist Gospel Singers.

JULY 7-13, 2024

Shared Voices Residency

at Wethersfield Estate & Gardens

Members of the new Shared Voices cohort attend a week long residency in Amenia, NY featuring coachings, masterclasses, and workshops led by renowned industry trailblazers.




Edward Boatner

Born in New Orleans, Edward Boatner was the son of an itinerant minister who moved frequently with his family during Edward’s childhood. Boatner began performing spirituals at an early age, collecting them for his own use as he sang in church. After attending public schools in St. Louis and Kansas City, he attended Western University in Quindaro, KS for a year, studying piano and voice. Todd Duncan encouraged him to move to Boston and he did so, studying for a brief period with instructors at the New England Conservatory. After a brief enrollment at the Longy School of Music and study with R. Nathaniel Dett, he moved to Chicago in 1925 and attended the Chicago College of Music, receiving his Bachelor of Music in 1932. In 1933 he became director of the school of music at Samuel Huston College in Austin, TX, and later became Dean of Music at Wiley College in Marshall, TX. 


Boatner settled in New York City in the late 1930s. He focused on performance, composition and teaching, opening his own studio. He trained choral groups, gave piano and voice lessons, and worked with established and aspiring singers and actors, including George Shirley, Josephine Baker, and Clifton Webb. In addition to directing the choir at the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, he performed recitals and appeared on stage with the National Negro Opera Company and the American Negro Opera Company. He published more than 300 arrangements of spirituals, performed by singers such as Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, Leontyne Price and Marian Anderson. He also composed original works, including one unpublished opera, and plays titled The Man from Nazareth and The Origin of the Spirituals. He wrote textbooks in music theory, composition, pedagogy and piano technique. He was also an essayist; his writings centered on issues of race and racism: Great Achievements in Black and White, The Damaging Results of Racism, and Black Humor. His only novel was entitled One Drop of Blood.  


Boatner was honored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, the National Association of Negro Musicians, the Brooklyn Lyceum, the Detroit Association of Musicians, and the New York Uptown Musicians. 


DGF is rooted in the belief that now is the time to increase our nation’s commitment to its artists, both past and present—for America’s future and for the whole world. In paying homage to the achievements of so many who have gone before while serving the real needs of today’s emerging artist singers, The Denyce Graves Foundation is giving back and paying it forward at the same time.



The Denyce Graves Foundation is proud to partner with the following Music Conservatories for the 2022 - 2023 Shared Voices program. Click on each institution's logo to learn more. 

1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 500

Washington, DC 20035

1740 Broadway, 15th floor

NYC, NY 10019


© 2023 The Denyce Graves Foundation

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Our Federal tax ID is 86-2276658. 

The Denyce Graves Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. 

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Blacktastic Honors Living Legend Denyce Graves: Elevating the Hidden Voices of Black History and Shaping Tomorrow’s Stars 

Arts for Learning Maryland is honored to feature Denyce Graves, internationally recognized mezzo-soprano opera singer, as this year’s Blacktastic living legend! While the annual virtual festival traditionally features Black historical figures from days past, Denyce stands out as a musician actively writing her chapter in Maryland’s history book today. In addition to being an Emmy and Grammy Award-winning vocalist, mother, wife, and educator, Denyce is an arts nonprofit pioneer making sure the path is clear for the young musicians of tomorrow through the work of the Denyce Graves Foundation.

Opera singer Denyce Graves is ready to 'turn the page' with new Foundation that champions overlooked musical voices 

BALTIMORE SUN: Denyce Graves, artistic director and founder of the Denyce Graves Foundation, talks about the foundation. She is in her studio at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she is a faculty member. Graves created the foundation to promote equality in classical vocal music, bring the stories of those not given attention to light and support young artists. 

WETA Arts Presents A Conversation with Denyce Graves: Her career, mentorship, Foundation, and future plans

The February episode of WETA Arts, the locally-produced television program of WETA that celebrates visual and performing arts in the Washington, D.C. area, will present a special feature on world-renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, with a focus on The Denyce Graves Foundation (DGF), which seeks to advance equity and inclusion in American Classical vocal artistry with an innovative approach that includes seeking out “hidden musical figures” of the past. 



The Denyce Graves Foundation is proud to partner with the following Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the 2022 - 2023 Shared Voices program. Click on each institution's logo to learn more. 

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