The Triad’s own Nia Imani Franklin, Miss America 2019, joins the Winston-Salem Symphony this month in concert. The vocalist, composer, and advocate for women and composers of color will showcase a wide range of vocal performances and original compositions.
The Winston-Salem native and North Davidson High School graduate went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in music composition from East Carolina University, and in 2017 her master’s from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. That same year Franklin moved to New York to pursue a Kenan Fellowship at Lincoln Center. While there she was encouraged to showcase her skills in the Miss New York competition which she won, and in 2018, following a stirring performance of Puccini’s “Musetta’s Waltz,” she was crowned Miss America.
Growing up in Winston-Salem, Franklin says she took advantage of a host of arts programs in school: honors chorus, dance classes, French horn and trumpet in the middle school band.
"I really think that it’s a city that values the arts, and it taught me to value the arts on a deeper level than maybe I did from just listening to music," says Franklin. "I just started to see kind of the value in the community aspect of it and being in a choir and just how amazing it feels to sing and make music with someone other than just yourself. To make music as a group is really special."
On the concert, Franklin will sing a variety of works covering multiple styles including R&B songs from her upcoming EP, spirituals, and traditional hymns, as well as music she composed while a student at UNCSA including her string quartet, Burgundy in Autumn, and her tribute to French composer Maurice Ravel for chamber orchestra, Vingt Huit.
The Symphony Unbound Concert featuring composer, conductor, and Miss America Nia Imani Franklin is Saturday, January 21, at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem.