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May Newsletter

Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West Honors Recital

Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West Honors Recital

You’re invited to the 11th Annual Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West Honors Recital on Sunday, May 19, at 4 PM at Camphor United Methodist Church. The recital will feature soloists, the Kamoinge String Ensemble, and the Advanced Youth Jazz Ensemble.

This recital is a celebration of our students’ accomplishments, offering them the opportunity to perform and recognizing graduating high school seniors.

Furthermore, the Founders will select a Founders Award recipient who has demonstrated exemplary musicianship and commitment to their studies at Walker|West.


Walker|West and the McKnight Foundation are thrilled to announce the recipients of the first-ever McKnight Artist Fellowship for Culture Bearers. 
Congratulations and much gratitude to:

✨Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra

✨Carl Walker

✨Mayyia Lee

✨Mark Erickson

The McKnight Culture Bearers Fellowship supports four Culture Bearers who practice sacred and healing lifeways and share cultural art practices across generations. Fellows receive public recognition and a $25,000 unrestricted award in support of their cultural practice.
#CultureBearers are critical to the  preservation and continuance of ancestral and cultural knowledge. The practice of being a Culture Bearer is distinct from other individual art practices because the practice is a full life tradition (not a career) and includes the intergenerational transmission of learning. The role of culture bearer is particularly important within ancestral cultures undergoing transition or experiencing threats from external or dominant cultures.


Final RCMS Concert of the Season
Saturday, May 11th 7pm
featuring Tower of Power Horns

The Tower of Power Horns Tribute Band traces its origins to Walker West at its former location on the north side of Selby Avenue in St. Paul.

The group was temporarily disbanded when Bryan, the original bandleader, announced his departure to Michigan.  Many years later, the band would come back together under new leadership and be stronger than ever. 14 years after this hiatus, the group had its inaugural performance at Walker West, where it all began.

Gerard, the new bandleader has curated a stellar lineup of musicians from the Twin Cities, each chosen for their exceptional talent and camaraderie. Witnessing the fruition of this project has been immensely rewarding, and he looks forward to the journey ahead with this remarkable ensemble.

In person seating for this concert is full but you can still join us virtually.

Jazz Department Update

Celebrating Success at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival

We are thrilled to announce the outstanding achievements of Walker West’s Jazz Department at the recent Eau Claire Jazz Festival held on Saturday, April 20. Three out of our four youth jazz ensembles took part in the event, showcasing exceptional talent and dedication.

Here’s a breakdown of their remarkable performances:

– The Tuesday 6:30 Ensemble secured 1st place in the High School Combo Category and was featured during the prestigious evening award ceremony. Notably, 4 out of 6 students were honored with outstanding soloist awards. The ensemble mesmerized the audience with renditions of John Coltrane classics like “Giant Steps,” “Naima,” and “Mr. PC.” They triumphed over 10 other high school combos, showcasing their musical prowess.

– The Monday 6:00 Ensemble, though non-competitive, shone brightly with all 5 ensemble members receiving outstanding soloist awards, a testament to their musical excellence and skill.

– Similarly, the Wednesday 7:00 Ensemble, also non-competitive, stood out with 2 out of 4 ensemble members earning outstanding soloist awards, demonstrating their exceptional musical abilities.

These achievements underscore the talent and dedication of our jazz students and instructors at Walker West.

To discover more about our jazz ensembles and programs, please visit our website or reach out to us via email at


Women in Jazz “Intro to Jazz”
Workshop & Jam Session
Led by Jenny Case

Join Walker West for an interactive introduction to jazz workshop! Learn about this great American artform from leading local women jazz musicians, and play together. Women, non-binary and trans players are welcome to participate in the workshop, and join in a Sisterhood jam session to follow. Bring your instrument, bring your favorite chart to play, and singers, bring charts in your key! All welcome to attend.

Sponsored by Jazz88, as part of Walker West’s Women in Jazz Initiative, in partnership with She Rock She Rock

When: Saturday, May 18th from 1 to 5pm
Where: Walker West Music Academy
Who: Women, non-binary and trans jazz instrumentalists and vocalists of all ages & skill levels.


Now accepting registrations for all summer camps!

Women in Jazz Retreat

Join Walker West for our first ever Women in Jazz Retreat, with Twin Cities Jazz Festival performers, Claudia Medina and Ivanna Cuesta! This is a week-long comprehensive experience for women, non-binary and trans musicians to hone their performing skills, connect with other like-minded players and receive mentoring and coaching from leading women jazz faculty. Culminating in a live performance at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival! Presented as a part of Walker West’s Women in Jazz Initiative. 

When: Monday-Friday, June 17-21 (off June 19), 9:30am-4pm 
Where: Walker West Music Academy
Who: Women, non-binary and trans jazz instrumentalists and vocalists (intermediate to advanced) ages 14+.


“Grow Through Music” Summer Camp

Our “Grow Through Music” camp offers a fun introduction to a variety of instruments for beginning students, and a way to reconnect with friends and instructors for returning students. Campers will learn in a supportive small group environment with a chance to perform during our end of camp presentation.

When: July 8 – July 26, 2024 | Monday – Friday | 8am – 12pm daily
Who: Grades K-6

Summer Music Production College Course at Hamline

Supercharge your artistic voice this summer with hands-on Music Production instruction in this 2-week intensive college course at Hamline University! Full scholarships are available to all students.

When: July 8 – 12, 2024 | Monday – Friday | 9 am-3 pm daily
Who: Grades 10+

Summer Jazz Intensive

The Summer Jazz Intensive program is a one week comprehensive experience for beginner to advanced youth musicians to hone their performing skills, take applied classes and interact with world-class jazz faculty at Walker|West.

When: July 29 – Aug 2, 2024 | Monday – Friday | 10am – 4pm daily
Who: Grades 6-12

Summer Jazz Violin Workshop

5-Day Intensive (For intermediate violin students)

This 5-day workshop is for violin (only) students looking to branch out from traditional classical violin or who desire to take their improvisation to the next level.

When: August 5 – 9, 2024 | Monday – Friday | 9am – 12pm daily
Who: Grades 5-12


May is one of my favorite months. We celebrate Cinco De Mayo, early graduations and most important, Mothers!

The String Department continues to build on its accomplishments this year. On April 4th, Kamoinge Strings was the featured performer at the home of Pat and Gary Sauer of the Sauer Family Foundation. A week later on Saturday, April 13th, Kamoinge Strings performed at Allianz Field for Minnesota United’s (Soccer Team) “Celebrate Black Excellence” Day.


Walker|West @ Twin Cities Jazz Festival

Friday, June 21:

  • Karrin Allyson Masterclass 12:30pm @ Saint City, w/ Jazzwomen Collective
  • WW Youth Stage 2 – 6 pm @ Saint City 
  • Walker West Jazz Esembles  2pm & Kamoinge Strings 4pm @ Saint City

Saturday, June 22:

  • Regina Carter Masterclass 11am @ WW
  • WW Youth Stage 11-6pm @ Saint City 
  • WW Advanced Jazz Ensemble 12pm @ Mears Park MainStage
  • WW Jazzwomen Collective presents “A Chronology of Jazz Matriarchy” 4pm @ Mears Park MainStage

Construction Update

In the heart of Saint Paul, the renovation of Walker West Music Academy’s new building is well underway, with 3M helping enhance the exterior with a donation of vinyl wrapping. With the demo stage completed and framing set to begin next week, the academy is on track to open its doors in November. This state-of-the-art facility promises to be a hub of creativity and collaboration, providing students and the community with a space to cultivate their passion for music and the arts.

NBA Grant Announcement

This Crucial Funding Helps Us Expand Music Education Across the Twin Cities.

Walker|West’s Digital Music Production Program is led by skilled instructors and industry professionals, offering hands-on experience in sound synthesis, composition, and collaboration. Beyond musical skills, the program fosters vital life and employment skills crucial for success.

Last year the impact of the grant was profound:

  • Participants reported significant growth, including increased creativity, improved communication and collaboration skills, and a better understanding of digital music production techniques.
  • 95% of participants reported that they learned how digital music production, music theory, and composition work in tandem in gaining the skills essential for careers in the digital music industry and media arts.

For more information about our Digital Music Production Program, please visit our website.

We’re Hiring!

Walker West Music Academy is hiring for a Development Director! This full-time, remote position will see the organization through an exciting time in its history, through tremendous growth and the final leg of its capital campaign. For more information and the full job description, see our website at:

Applications due by Friday, May 17 and can be emailed to Amelia Colwell (she/her) at

Amazing Grace Chorus Update

The Amazing Grace Chorus of Walker West Music Academy Presents a Master Class

On April 25th-27th, Shana Moses, AGC Program Director led a team of Amazing Grace Chorus leaders to the Inaugural Alter Dementia Summit at House of Hope, in Decatur, Ga. The summit drew participants from more than 13 states to listen, learn and collaborate about innovative and culturally relevant practices.  The conference theme was:  The Role of the Black Church.

Additional presenters of the master class included, Minister Carl Clomon, AGC Music Director, Lawrence Waddell, Walker West Adult Programs Director, Walker West Founder Rev. Carl Walker, and two AGC facilitators/members and community and public health leaders, Katie Sample, and Barbara “Bob-e” Epps. The Master Class topic presented by Shana and the AGC Team was “Creating a Dementia-friendly Worship Experience.”  Quotes from session attendees:                           

“Informative and spiritually uplifting.”

“I found the session to be timely and very helpful.”

As noted by Dr. Fayron Epps, “The Alter Dementia Summit is crucial to moving the needle on improving health outcomes, increasing equitable access to resources and supportive services and eradicating dementia-related disparities in the Black community.”  The summit was a rich source of learning for those living with dementia, caregivers and dementia-friendly champions for change.

This inspiring opportunity was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.

The Amazing Grace Chorus will have an upcoming Spring Concert and mini-resource fair on Sat. June 8th – Telling Our Story – Singing Our Song at the Fellowship Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

Concert begins at 4pm

Mini-Resource Fair 5:15pm


When: Saturday, June 1st 2024 from 11am – 3pm
Where: 760 Selby Avenue


The Music of Rondo: Celebrating Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West
When: Wednesday, June 19th 2024 from 12pm to 5pm
Where: Rondo Commemorative Plaza
820 Rondo Avenue @ Fisk Street
Featuring speakers, music, and vendors.

Save Your Spot
Before Its Too Late!