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About the Institute

The African American Arts Institute (AAAI) is committed to promoting and preserving African American culture through performance, education, creative activity, research, and outreach. Since 1974, the AAAI has provided opportunities for thousands of Indiana University students to explore their talents in performance, teaching, and arts management, while pursuing degrees across the university's expansive curriculum.

Our Ensembles…

The AAAI manages performance ensembles that are offered for academic credit through the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies.

Performance Activities…

The AAAI ensembles have a long history of performing and facilitating programs locally, statewide, and nationally in concerts, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, and community service endeavors. Contact our booking agent for information.

How it all started…

Recognizing that student talent and interest in Black performance styles could foster the development of ensembles as a vital part of academic coursework, Herman C. Hudson established the IU Soul Revue in 1971. Ethnomusicologist Portia K. Maultsby was appointed as the ensemble’s first director. Demonstrating a repertoire based in R&B, soul, and other forms of urban Black popular music, the "Revue" would become America’s first collegiate Black popular music ensemble offered for academic credit.

In 1974 the African American (then Afro-American) Dance Company was formed under the direction of Iris Rosa. In addition to developing performing arts ensembles, Hudson initiated several research projects among scholars on the Bloomington campus. The combination of research activity, performance, outreach, and the creative activity undertaken by the two ensembles led Hudson to establish the Afro-American Arts Institute (later changed to African American Arts Institute) that same year.

Hudson established a third ensemble, the Afro-American (later changed to African American) Choral Ensemble in 1975 with music education professor Michael Gordon as its first director and ethnomusicologist Mellonee Burnim as assistant director, thus completing AAAI’s academic/performance component, as it exists today.