Celebrating the LGBTQ+ music community in Cincinnati and beyond

The room was filled with excitement and laughter at the first annual Pride Arts Showcase in Cincinnati on International Transgender Day of Visibility at Church of Our Savior. Vincenzo Volpe’s dream of this event was coming true.

As the Program Manager of Lives United, a small, community arts nonprofit with a concert series as part of their annual programming, Volpe is also the organizer of the National Flute Association’s annual LGBTQ+ Flute Choir, which made its debut in August 2022. Because of funding from ArtsWave and the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM), he was able to commission a composer for this showcase.

l to r: Vincenzo Volpe with Kei Slaughter
Volpe was particularly looking for a Black or brown LGBTQ+ composer because of a lack of representation in the repertoire at the moment. The showcase was designed to bring that rich history into the forefront and to amplify the voices that haven’t been always heard.

After talking with a few fellow musicians, he was referred to Professor Kei Slaughter at the Berklee College of Music who was extremely honored to compose a piece and came to Cincinnati for a soft premiere.

Slaughter mentioned that composing the piece, titled 'ban', was a "cathartic process." They said, “I wanted a way to express that pain/grief/pain/pressure/fear/uneasiness. Pour into a creative expression what I was observing in the larger discourse. I was inspired by being a minoritized body and leaning into being a celebrated body…… embracing and affirming identities. Creating spaces where affirmation and healing lives for queer/trans folks and people of color.”

There were twenty-five artists in the showcase, and the concert was 1.5 hours. Attendance was standing room only, and artists sat in the wings. The event was a wonderful opportunity for Cincinnati artists to showcase their art, music, and talent. Almost all of the performers were members of the LGBTQ+ community and the majority were trans/nonbinary.

You can watch a video of the showcase here.
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Read more articles by Miyah Byrd.

Miyah Byrd is a storyteller and advocate based in Ohio. Her work has been featured in KIIONA Magazine, Forge, Human Parts, and ThriveGlobal. She is a former educator whose interests include food insecurity, green energy, and the self-sufficiency of the black community.