"Williams has a musical language all his own. It brims with vernacular American optimism…"
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"[Williams] is able to compose convincingly in every popular genre..."
The Washington Post
Nolan Williams, Jr. is best described as a creative force. An award-winning artistic producer, composer/lyricist, music director and cultural curator, the multi-hyphenate Williams has dedicated his professional career to the curation of works that illuminate issues of civil rights, social justice, and cultural curiosities.
His extensive body of creative work includes: theatrical productions workshopped/mounted at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Play House, and The Clarice; curatorial festivals produced in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia’s Mann Center, and more; cultural programming developed in collaboration with The Smithsonian, U.S. State Department, and the Embassies of India and South Africa; video and documentary projects; choral/orchestral works premiered by the Philadelphia, National Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Atlanta Youth Symphony, Philadelphia Youth, and Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestras; numerous choral commissions; songwriting credits on two Grammy®-nominated projects; music for television; and, collaborations with an impressive roster of artists, including Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams, Smokie Robinson, Raul Esparza, Vanessa Williams, and Denyce Graves.
Standout projects include: GRACE, a critically-acclaimed new musical (with music and lyrics by WIlliams and book by Williams and Nikkole Salter) presently premiering at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., March 19 - May 14, 2022; "Becoming Douglass Commonwealth," a one-hour documentary that chronicles the long and complicated journey towards Washington, District of Columbia becoming our 51st state, Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (produced and directed by Williams); STIRRING THE WATERS ACROSS AMERICA, a touring theatrical concert production that illuminates key events from the Civil Rights Movement, hailed by D.C. Metro Theatre Arts as "Electrifying. Awakening. ...Exquisitely bold and utterly holy"; "I Have A Right To Vote," the award-winning viral voting rights anthem featuring Billy Porter, Billy Jean King, Carla Hall, Christopher Jackson, Hill Harper, Ebony JoAnn, Ryan Jamaal Swain and Sheila C. Johnson that garnered nearly 1.5 million views during the 2020 U.S. election cycle; #ByGrace, an award-winning live Instagram and Facebook conversation series co-hosted by Nolan and celebrity Chef Carla Hall that has reached a global audience of more than 500,000; "Woke!," a multifaceted digital arts campaign to raise civic awareness and civic engagement; a choral setting of "The National Anthem" commissioned by Major League Baseball for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, broadcast nationwide on FOX featuring a choir of over 400 voices; and "Hold Fast To Dreams," a classical song cycle for orchestra, choir, soloists, and narrator, premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra and heralded by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "soaring... lovely... [and] dreamily upbeat...".
In 2019, Williams was named the inaugural Social Practice Resident at The Kennedy Center REACH. He is also the recipient of The Center's National Committee for the Performing Arts' 2019 Award for Arts Advocacy. Most recently, Williams' inspiring work has garnered three 2021 Telly Awards Bronze Prizes.
A resident of Washington, D.C., Williams is CEO of NEWorks Productions.
PHOTO CREDITS: (1) Jhon Ochoa, courtesy of NEWorks Productions; (2) Nolan music directing "A Monumental Celebration," Lincoln Memorial (2018); courtesy of The White House Historical Association. (3) Nolan playing at the Residence of the Ambassador of India to the United States for "Reflections of Peace: from Gandhi to King" (2013); Kadesh DuBose, courtesy of NEWorks Productions. (4) Nolan conducting the National Symphony Orchestra and NEWorks Voices of Inspiration (2012); Kadesh DuBose, courtesy of NEWorks Productions.
In 2019, Nolan was named the inaugural Social Practice Resident at The Kennedy Center REACH. His focal project has been the development of STIRRING THE WATERS ACROSS AMERICA, a theatrical concert production that highlights seminal moments of the modern Civil Rights Movement.
The images below capture scenes from the STIRRING THE WATERS ACROSS AMERICA (STWAA) auditions at The Kennedy Center in July 2019; The Kennedy Center REACH Opening in September 2019; STWAA rehearsals at The REACH; and the Studio-J STWAA workshop performance and talkback at The REACH in October 2019.
Nolan is featured in the Kennedy Center series, "If These Halls Could Talk: Celebrating the Kennedy Center at 50." Check out his reflections on his more than 20 years of history producing and contributing to rich programming at the nation's performing arts center.
Congratulations to Nolan for winning three 2021 Telly Awards Bronze Prizes. Established in 1979, The Telly Awards honor excellence in video and television across all screens. Award selections are adjudicated by the Telly Awards Judging Council, a group of over 200 working industry professionals, and selected from over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents. Nolan's three prizes were awarded for:
Williams composed, produced and video directed the voting rights anthem "I Have A Right To Vote," the star-studded video -- which featured Billie Jean King, Billy Porter, Carla Hall, Christopher Jackson, Ebony JoAnn, Hill Harper, Sheila C. Johnson, and Ryan Jamaal Swain -- garnered over 1.2 million views during the 2020 national election cycle.
Produced by Nolan/NEWorks Productions and Dale A. Mott/Edgewood | Executive produced by David Frederick, Sophia Lynn and Bohemian Foundation
Williams co-hosted the #ByGrace Live Chat Series with celebrity chef Carla Hall from April 21 to May 26, 2020, inspired by the history and themes of Williams' new musical, GRACE. The series, with featured guests like Broadway legend Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Beard Award winner Dr. Jessica B. Harris, culinary historian Michael Twitty, broadcast journalists Michelle Miller and Angie Goff, drew a global audience of 500,000+.
Co-produced by Nolan/NEWorks Productions and Dale A. Mott/Edgewood
#ByGrace Live Chat Series
Co-hosted by Chef Carla Hall and Nolan | Co-produced by Nolan/NEWorks Productions and Dale Mott/Edgewood
For a quirkier look at Nolan, check out this SoundCloud podcast created by Jalen Francis, a student at Georgetown University.