As a child, LaDonna Boyd recalls her father’s desire to build a museum that would recognize African Americans’ contributions to music.
“I remember going to meetings and fundraisers at people’s houses with my parents, but not really fully understanding what this would mean,” she says.
More than 20 years later, the meaning is clear to the now CEO of Nashville-based R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp., which recently contributed a million dollars to the National Museum of African American Music scheduled to open in early 2020.
Boyd, who became a fifth-generation CEO when she took over the publishing company in 2017, says her father, T.B. Boyd III, would be proud.
“The museum was an initiative started by my father over 20 years ago,” says Boyd, who is a member of the museum’s board. “We’re very proud to see it come to fruition, and we’re certainly glad to be in a position to make such a large gift.”
She says the museum also honors her great-great-grandfather, Richard Henry Boyd, who in 1896 started the publishing company, considered the nation’s oldest minority-owned business. Eight years later, he launched Nashville-based Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co., which is considered the nation’s oldest continually operating black-owned bank.
“He was a leader in music, if you will, because our company printed hymnals and sheet music,” says Boyd of her great-great-grandfather. “So we have been able to tell the story and the narrative of the black experience for over 123 years, whether it be in music, or in faith-based initiatives.”
The website of the museum says it will be a “56,000-square-foot facility that will encourage visitors to discover the many connections and influences that composers have had on all genres of music.”
“From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM will integrate history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and subgenres,” according to the site. “It will be an unparalleled institution, not confined by record label, genre or recording artist, but instead will tell a unique narrative through the lens of black music.”
Boyd says she hopes the museum will help people better understand just how deep African American roots are in music.
“We certainly deserve the recognition,” she says. “So for people that aren’t of this ethnicity to be able to see that, kind of front and center, I think it’s important.”
Boyd believes the museum will also “help further the conversation around diversity and equality, and equitable solutions to help alleviate some of the social concerns that black people still deal with today.”
Boyd, who chairs the committee charged with making sure construction of the museum is fully executed, says her company’s donation includes an endowment fund that will benefit students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) pursuing music education.
“I think that’s huge,” says Boyd. “We want to make sure we’re putting resources back into the community.”
To learn more about the National Museum of African American Music, visit https://nmaam.org.