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Dr. Leah N. Claiborne

Assistant Professor of Music

University of the District of Columbia

Leah Claiborne, D.M.A. promotes diversity in the arts by championing piano music by Black composers in her performances, research, and teaching. She was the first pianist at the University of Michigan to be awarded the Rackham Predoc fellowship which is the most prestigious fellowship awarded by the graduate school. This fellowship allowed her to further research, compile, and edit piano music by Black composers.

In 2019, Leah was a prize winner in the ProMusicis International Music competition. This competition awarded her the Father Merlett Award for her high quality musical performance and commitment to social outreach. 

In 2018 she curated a sold out concert at the University of Michigan Museum of Art which featured instrumental and vocal music by Black American composers. In the same year, she recorded selections from Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s 24 Negro Melodies for piano solo and piano trio. In 2016 she was a top prize winner in the National Association of Negro Musicians National Piano Competition. In the same year she was awarded the University of Michigan Martin Luther King Spirit Award for her creation of a free piano program for local students where the focus of study was on the impact of Black classical piano composers. 

Leah has performed across the United States as well as Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Most recently, she performed at Hiroshima University in Japan with the Asia America New Music Ensemble. 

Dr. Claiborne received her undergraduate degree from Manhattan School of Music where she received the Josephine Whitmore graduation award. This award was given to a graduating senior “whose personal qualities enriches the spirit of the school and community at large.” She received her Masters of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Michigan. 

Dr. Claiborne currently teaches at the University of the District of Columbia where she serves as coordinator of keyboard studies and teaches the History of African American Music. 

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