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The United Strings of Color was started in Raleigh, NC, as a project to address racial disparity in classical music through music education and community engagement. United Strings of Color began as a single outreach string quartet uniquely comprised of African American musicians, self-named and created in 2018.  


The United Strings of Color Quartet has performed at Raleigh's African American Cultural Festival each year 2019-2023, with the Durham Symphony, at the North Carolina Museum of Art, at the African American Cultural Celebration sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of History in 2022 and 2023, for Cary's Kwanzaa Celebration, for the 2021, 2022, and 2023 Juneteenth Celebrations at Dix Park in Raleigh, for the local Omega Psi Phi Quiz Bowl, for the Raleigh-Wake Chapter of Jack and Jill, multiple area churches and art galleries, and for Raleigh's Boys and Girls Club. The group has also been featured as a My Brother’s and Sister's Keeper partner. 


Over their history, the quartet has studied and performed music by under-represented female composers, including two African Americans, Florence Price and Undine Smith Moore; prepared a concert of music with African connections; and presented impactful social justice concerts. After the death of Elijah McClain, an amateur violinist, musicians around the country began holding Violin Vigils. United Strings of Color wanted to follow suit in response to our current time of reckoning and desire for societal transformation. The United Strings of Color Violin Vigils were unique in that they incorporated poetry and music to commemorate Black lives lost and to call for equal justice for all. In 2021, the United Strings of Color performed five Vigils including for the Day of Enlightenment (May 25th) and for the Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration at Dix Park. The review of our May 1 Vigil by Classical Voice North Carolina stated: “There’s hope for our nation, when there are youngsters like these poets and instrumentalists who are prepared to propel us into a more united, more peaceful future.” 


In fall 2021, United Strings of Color premiered a rendition of a Yoruba folktale as imagined by local jazz artist and composer, Elmer Gibson. The premiere was held at the North Carolina Museum of Art on October 16. From Classical Voice North Carolina reviewer, Kelsey Carlisle: "When the day began, I expected to attend a concert and go home after. I was surprised to find out this would be one of the most informative, immersive, profound, and moving experiences of my artistic life."  United Strings of Color went on to perform "Ijapa and Mr. Igbin" for the fall festival at Pure Life Theatre, for Halloween at Pullen Arts Center, for Kwanzaa in Cary, for the African American Cultural Celebration, and for Black Brilliance in a Wake County Public Library. In 2024, the new Intermediate Group performed the work in the Cary Arts Center Theatre, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and West Regional library.

From the Cultural Voice North Carolina review of the 2022 performance at the African American Cultural Festival: "The quartet moved with unbelievable ease and maturity when expressing the different styles in such a varied program." 

The United Strings of Color continues to study music by African American composers including Anthony Kelly and DBR (aka Daniel Bernard Roumain). The Quartet was a featured soloist for the final 75th Anniversary Concert of NCStateLive!, on April 15, 2023, playing the "Race" movement from DBR's Third Quartet dedicated to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. They premiered a commissioned work by local composer, Elmer Gibson, in September 2023 entitled "Evoking the Spirit of Hambone".

In September 2022, United Strings of Color gained recognition from the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit corporation.


United Strings of Color Quartet

2018 -19: Kennedy Mitchell and Felicia Adizue, violins; Jolie Duquene, viola; and Lexi Etienne, cello.

2019-20: Kennedy Mitchell and CT Thomas, violins; Kenza Ngatchou, viola; and Lexi Etienne, cello.

2020-21: Kennedy Mitchell and CT Thomas, violins; Sterling Elliott, viola; and Lexi Etienne, cello.

2021-22: Tayla Murphy and CT Thomas, violins; Sterling Elliott, viola; and Lexi Etienne, cello.

2022-23: Felicia Adizue and CT Thomas, violins; Sterling Elliott viola; and Lexi Etienne, cello

2023-24:.Sofia Gee and CT Thomas, violins; Sterling Elliott viola; and Lexi Etienne, cello

United Strings of Color Junior Group

2022-23: Jada Starr, Armand Etienne, Anulika Izuakor, Amara Izuakor and Regan Stringfield, violins; Nia Stringfield, viola; Delaney Etienne, cello.

2023-24: Jada Starr, Armand Etienne, Johanna Piquant, violins; Delaney Etienne, cello.

United Strings of Color Intermediate Group

2023-24: Amara Izuakor, violin; Anulika Izuakor, viola; Zion Anderson, cello; Stephen Anderson, piano.

Juneteenth Picnic
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