The Kennedy Center

Rev. Nolan Williams Jr.



Biography

Nolan Williams is a musicologist, theologian, American songwriter, and producer whose professional career defies conventional boundaries.

Best known for his work as Chief Music Editor of the bestselling African American Heritage Hymnal—a critically acclaimed compendium of music, with sales now surpassing 300,000 books worldwide, Williams is a noted scholar who has lectured extensively, including keynote addresses for the National Academy of Religion, Yale University’s Parks-King Lecture Series, Festival Musica y Filosofia (Naples, Italy), and Georgetown University Law School. He has also been featured on PBS, BET, the Word network, and internationally in the UK, France, Italy, and Slovenia.

Williams has written and produced music for television, film, and live events of national and international prominence. His eclectic compositional library includes: songwriting collaborations on numerous Grammy-nominated projects; commissioned compositions by Georgetown University and the National Symphony Orchestra; musical works performed by some of the country’s leading orchestras, including the Charleston Symphony, Memphis Symphony, and Kennedy Center Opera House orchestras; and, original gospel songs featured on his debut CD, inSpiration, released nationwide in 2010. He has collaborated with a range of industry artists—from Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and India.Arie to Denyce Graves, Yolanda Adams, and Michael McDonald.

Through NEWorks Productions, Williams has produced inspirational arts programming with the Smithsonian Institute, the U.S. Army, Georgetown University, the Arts and Humanities Council of Washington, DC, and the Dallas-based Black Academy of Arts and Letters. Williams and NEWorks have been especially privileged to collaborate with the Kennedy Center on a number of landmark projects, including musical direction of the finale for the 77th Birthday Tribute for Senator Edward M. Kennedy and production of the 105 Voices of History HBCU National Choir concert. Most recently, Williams has worked alongside Garth Ross, Director of the Kennedy Center’s Performing Arts for Everyone program, to plan an unprecedented nine-day celebration, as the Artistic Consultant for Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America. Williams is also the Artistic Director for the National Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever full concert of African American sacred music on Saturday, April 24, 2010.

Williams serves as Minister of Music at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He also consults with numerous churches across the country on matters of music ministry and worship. In October 2010, Williams will return to his alma mater, Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio), to conduct master classes and serve as Music Director for the Northern Ohio Hymn Festival.

Watch Past Performances

Video 2/13/2016: Cry, the Beloved Country!

Rev. Nolan Williams Jr., artistic director, presents a concert of freedom songs from the South African liberation movement featuring combined choirs, Voices of Southern Africa and Williams’s D.C.- Voices of Inspiration, in performance with the Simunye Dance Ensemble of Southern Africa. Produced by NEWorks Productions as a community engagement initiative in support of Washington National Opera’s Lost in the Stars.

Video 11/15/2015: Community-Wide Spirituals Sing

Curated by Nolan Williams, Jr. and NEWorks Productions, Community-Wide Spirituals Sing brings together an august gathering of choirs and community participants from across the region for an evening of spirituals. Note: the call for participants is 4 p.m.

Video 6/11/2014: NEWSacred SONG ANTHOLOGY

Sacred music songwriter Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. leads his Voices of Inspiration choir and a special assembly of singers from across the nation’s capital in singing signature arrangements of hymns, spirituals, and gospel songs that honor the choral tradition within the gospel community. Part of Voices of Our Nation: Celebrating the Choral Tradition.

Rev. Nolan Williams Jr.