Meghann Oglesby is changing the face of classical music.
In a genre that skews older, white and male, Oglesby is none of that. Young, gifted and Black, Oglesby is the producer of American Public Media Group’s “Performance Today,” the largest syndicated classical music program in the nation. The program can be heard on more than 300 public radio stations spanning 41 states. Oglesby is the only Black female producer in national classical music programs at American Public Media.
In her role since October of 2017, the Rust College (Mississippi) graduate with a master’s from Arkansas State selects the music heard on the program, writes program scripts, voices scripts and creates digital content for social media. Oglesby’s impact … and imprint … is noticeable.
The show’s “My Name Is” series – a series highlighting Black classical music artists – was the brainchild of Oglesby. It debuted last year during Black Music Month.
“I wanted people to know who these (Black artists) are,” explained the producer. “I want the classical music world to know these people exist and they are incredible artists.”
Another initiative of Oglesby was to diversify the program’s “Young Artist in Residence” series. Because of her efforts, this year is the most diverse the Young Artist Program has ever been in terms of race, musical organization and type of instrument.
“This year we have two Black women … one just 16 years old … one person of Chinese origin and another of Italian origin,” said Oglesby, who also initiated a celebration of Hispanic classical artists. “We had our first harpist and first trombonist. Part of my responsibility to the program is to be inclusive in our content. I feel passionate that we demonstrate diversity; as our audience, too, is diverse. We have to show our audience that we have artists who look like them, sound like them and come from a similar place as them.”
The Park Center High School graduate, who is a native of Chicago, said she has always had an appreciation for classical music and grew up playing the clarinet and piano.
“I always liked classical music, but it wasn’t a part of my daily life like it is now,” said Oglesby, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
With her efforts, classical music will become a part of more people’s daily lives … more people of color who might not have been exposed to the genre if it were not for Oglesby.