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Kennedy Center Adds Hip-Hop Programming to its Core Series, With Q-Tip Directing (Plus Terrence Blanchard Yearlong Residency)

Kennedy Center Adds Hip-Hop Programming to its Core Series, With Q-Tip Directing (Plus Terrence Blanchard Yearlong Residency)

Following last year’s critically acclaimed performance by Kendrick Lamar with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced today that rapper and producer Q-Tip will join the institution as its “Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture,” with Hip Hop now being officially added to the center’s core programming.

The announcement was made as the Kennedy Center released details of the more than 2,000 performances that will be staged there during the 2016-2017 season.

The center also will present a strong comedy lineup including Trevor Noah. And jazz trumpeter and composer Terrence Blanchard will take up a yearlong residency at the center, with programming that includes the East Coast premiere of “Champion,” an “opera in jazz” he co-wrote with Michael Christopher.

The center, which is a memorial to President John F. Kennedy and the nation’s busiest performing arts venue, will also mark the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth with programming that honors his ideals and legacy.

Speaking on Q-Tip’s new position, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said at Tuesday’s announcement: “I really believe that he has an important voice for all of us, for those art forms that don’t have the central stage.” 

“We see hip hop in our films, we see it in our commercials, we hear it everywhere. We cannot escape that beat,” Q-Tip added. “That beat, that pulse is what we’re going to connect to at the Kennedy Center.”

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