National Museum of African American Music to honor Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, more at concert

Dave Paulson
Nashville Tennessean
Quincy Jones

The National Museum of African American Music will honor Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson and the Fisk Jubilee Singers as 'Legends' during its premier annual event.

The Nashville-based museum's 7th annual "Celebration of Legends" concert is planned for Thursday, June 17.

The honorees will be presented with the museum's Rhapsody & Rhythm Award at the concert, which is planned as "a mix of in-person and virtual experiences," with limited in-person seating. A venue has not been announced.

Lionel Richie performs at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on Saturday, June 14, in Manchester, Tenn.

Since 2014, the "Legends" concert has honored dozens of influential figures, including Little Richard, Shirley Caesar, CeCe Winans, George Clinton, Gloria Gaynor and Nile Rodgers. 

This year's concert will be the first since the museum opened its doors in downtown Nashville this past January, after more than 20 years of planning. 

“NMAAM showcases Black music excellence every day, but this year’s Black Music Month will be a special one as we celebrate the museum’s opening with phenomenal music icons and Black music fans across the world,” museum president and CEO Henry Beecher Hicks III said in a release.

“We can’t wait to open our doors and share in the joy of Juneteenth weekend with our supporters, fans and a few musical legends, as well.”

Smokey Robinson introduces Maren Morris and Brandi Carlile during the CMT Artists of the Year ceremony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018.

"Celebration of Legends" will kick off a weekend-long celebration of Black Music Month hosted by the museum and Amazon, which became a major sponsor earlier this year. 

Other planned events include a "State of Black Music Summit" for artists and industry members, and a formal museum dedication and Juneteenth block party on June 19. The public can sign up for updates at

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Though Jones, Robinson and Richie began their careers in the 1940s, '50s and '60s respectively — and Jones celebrated his 88th birthday last month —  the true veterans of the group are Nashville's Fisk Jubilee Singers. The vocal ensemble is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2021, and recently brought home its first-ever Grammy Award. 

The Fisk Jubilee Singers pose for a portrait Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are vocal artists and students at Fisk University who sing and travel worldwide. The original Fisk Jubilee Singers introduced "slave songs" to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving the unique American musical tradition of Negro spirituals.

In January, the National Museum of African American Music opened its doors in downtown Nashville as part of the new Fifth + Broadway complex. The 56,000 square-foot space tells the story of jazz, gospel, blues, R&B, hip-hop and more via high-tech installations and historic artifacts. 

Earlier this month, the museum and the Country Music Association launched a program to bring Black country artists to Nashville classrooms for mentorship and discussions.