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Hannibal Lokumbe

Bastrop, TX         

Biography  Musician * Composer * Community Activist * Author * PoetBack Home

“Trilogy, Freedom Dance Cycle” is available for purchase here

Classic composer and jazz trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe (né Marvin Peterson) has been celebrating and commemorating the African-American experience through music and words for over four decades.


Lokumbe’s work has been commissioned and performed by symphonies and orchestras across the country, including The Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra (“Can you hear God Crying?” conducted by Dirk Brossé, 2012), The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (“Dear Mrs. Parks,” conducted by Thomas Wilkins, 2005) and The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (“God, Mississippi and a Man Called Evers” conducted by Dr. Leslie Dunner, 2002).

Lokumbe’s piece “One Land, One River, One People” was premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin in November 2015, and reprised by the Orchestra at a MLK Day celebration in Philadelphia in January 2016 and at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in August 2016.

Lokumbe’s oratorio “African Portraits” debuted at Carnegie Hall with conductor Paul Lustig Dunkel and the American Composers Orchestra in 1990.  Since its debut, “African Portraits” has been performed over two hundred times by orchestras across America, and was recorded with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.

Other orchestral and choral and recordings include, “In The Spirit Of Being” (Vocal Essence), “A Shepherd Among Us” (Arts Sanctuary),” “One Heart Beating” (Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Andre Raphel Smith), “Fannie Lou Hamer” (Kronos Quartet),” and many others. 

Originally from Smithville Texas, Lokumbe lived and played in New York’s jazz scene for over thirty years, where he performed with many of his music idols including: Gil Evans, Roy Haynes, Cecil Taylor, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and Elvin Jones.

When he’s not traveling and performing, Lokumbe splits his time between his home in Bastrop, Texas and his studio in New Orleans, La.

Lokumbe is the founder and director of the Music Liberation Orchestra, a program that teaches music, genealogy and writing to incarcerated men around the country in institutions such as the Bastrop County Jail, located in Bastrop, Texas, Orleans Parish prison, located in New Orleans, La., and Holmesburg Prison located in Philadelphia, Pa.

Notable awards and recognitions: Harlem Jazz Hall of Fame Lifetime Inductee//Bessie//National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)// The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Lifetime Achievement, 2011//United States Artist Award in Music, Peter Cummings Fellow, 2010 // Joyce Award, 2011// Texas City Independent School District Hall of Fame // The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, La., SweetArts Award.

Commissions: The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra/New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Kronos Quartet, Vocal Essence, Carnegie Hall, Carole Hass Gravagno, The Art Sanctuary of Philadelphia, Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Academy of Arts And Sciences.

 In 2014, Lokumbe completed “Trilogy Freedom Dance Cycle,” a narrative about the murders of three men  –– James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner ––who were registering African-Americans to vote in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer Campaign in 1964. In the video below, Lokumbe reads an excerpt of “Trilogy”:  

Can You Hear God Crying?

Hannibal Lokumbe leads performances of his composition, Can You Hear God Crying at the Kimmel Center, The Philadelphia Detention Center and Freedom Theatre. Teen musicians round out two of the powerful performances.

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Hannibal Lokumbe: ‘African Portraits’

Jazz trumpeter and composer Hannibal Lokumbe’s oratorio ‘African Portraits’ performed with Daniel Baremboin and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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One Land, One River, One People

Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe’s oratorio: One Land, One River, One People (November 2015)

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