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Kendrah Butler and Shamika Byrd

Kendrah Butler - Shamika Byrd Residency Production Photo

Kendrah Butler - Shamika Byrd Residency Production Photo

Kendrah Butler - Shamika Byrd Residency Production Photo

Kendrah Butler - Shamika Byrd Residency Production Photo

Kendrah Butler - Shamika Byrd Residency Production Photo

Project Created: “Sacred Jazz: Faith, Fortitutde, and the African American Experience”


Quote: “There’s nothing like hearing music that you’ve composed.” – Kendrah Butler, 2016
“I found that I was capable of more than I imagined.” – Shamika Byrd, 2016

Bio: Kendrah Butler is a classically and jazz trained pianist and violinist. She is also a notable musical director, directing shows such as “Diva Nation” and “The Breast Cancer Monologues” and performing for the Philadelphia Jazz Project, various jazz festivals in the tri-state areas, with various jazz groups in and around Philadelphia. Kendrah has worked with vocalist/ jazz laureate Rhenda Fearrington in developing the Philadelphia Women in Jazz Tour, which is in its 3rd year. Kendrah Butler has been a featured artist on Philly Cam, a television show that premiered on Comcast and  OnDemand as well as WRTI’s radio, whose music is on recurrent rotation on both Jeff Duperon and J. Michael Harrison’s shows. Kendrah as a composer has composed for documentaries (for Scribe Video Center) and arranged music for various projects, including for her own quartet (The Kendrah Butler Quartet). Kendrah is excited to have composed for this large scale project that includes full orchestration for 10 parts.

Shamika Byrd earned her music degree at Eastern University and later toured twice through Europe with the all-female ensemble Agape, singing traditional gospel and Negro spirituals to sold out halls and amphitheaters. Shamika has produced a concert as part of the Philadelphia Jazz Project’s 7X7 Concert Series, titled “Sacred and Soulful: A Journey,” and an Art Blakey tribute “Another Holiday for Skins: A Drum Celebration” alongside world renowned percussionists: Doc Gibbs, Pablo Batista and Robert Kenyatta. Shamika has performed at various jazz festivals and venues in the tri-state area.

Project Description: “The realm of “Sacred Jazz” is a genre of jazz that has not been widely explored. This residency enabled us to add to this genre of jazz as well as providing an opportunity for the public and Philadelphia community to explore a different realm of jazz.” This three prong work will seek to acknowledge the presence of jazz and faith of the African American experience to music. We are this body of work as a means to acknowledge to contributions of African American’s to the jazz and faith experience. Many composers writing from Mary Lou Williams to Duke Ellington acknowledge the presence of faith in their music and composed as well as performed within these idioms. We seek to further this meeting of musical genres of faith and jazz to broaden and deepen the definition of what jazz music can be.


Kendrah E. Butler - Piano and Violin Shamika Byrd - Vocals (Alto)
Lauren Lark - Vocals (Soprano)
V. Shayne Frederick - Vocals (Tenor/Baritone) Dwayne Grannum - Vocals (Bass)
Nimrod Speaks - Bass
Sadayah Roberts – Drums/Percussion
Nasir Dickerson – Tenor/Alto Saxophones and Cora Christopher Stevens – Trumpet
Masha T. Smith – Cello
Kimpedro Rodriguez - Drums

Performance Dates: Kendrah and Shamika were in residence at the Kimmel Center from November 2015 – June 2016. Their student workshop was held on February 19, their public workshop on March 11, their work-in-progress on May 14, and their world premiere was held on June 11, 2016.

Special Thanks: We would like to thank God for using us as vessels for His glory and sharing music that we pray will inspire, encourage, enlighten, and insight thought. We would also like to  thank our parents Charlotte Butler and Charles and Carolyn Byrd, and all of our family and friends who have encouraged us through this process. We would like to thank our ancestors, for it is upon your backs, your pain, trial, and triumph that we were able to write this music and tell your story!

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