Nolan Williams, Jr. is an American composer, music director, artistic producer, and cultural curator who uses his art to advocate, educate and inspire. His body of creative work includes: theatrical productions workshopped and mounted at Actors Theatre, 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; 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.
Notable recent works include: GRACE, a new musical (with book, music and lyrics by Williams) selected for the 2020 Humana Festival of New American Plays; 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 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 more than 1.2 million views during the 2020 U.S. election cycle; #BYGRACE, a 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...".
Williams has been named a 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.
Williams is CEO of NEWorks Productions.
PHOTO CREDITS: (1) Nolan music directing "A Monumental Celebration," Lincoln Memorial (2018); courtesy of The White House Historical Association. (2) 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. (3) Nolan conducting the National Symphony Orchestra and NEWorks Voices of Inspiration (2012); Kadesh DuBose, courtesy of NEWorks Productions.
In 2019, Nolan was named a 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.
For a quirkier look at Nolan, check out this SoundCloud podcast created by Jalen Francis, a student at Georgetown University.