Angelica Hairston receives governor’s award


Angelica Hairston was given a 2019 Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities by Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia. Given to “honor outstanding individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to Georgia’s civic and cultural vitality through excellence and service to the arts and humanities,” Hairston was recognized for her efforts to bring classical music to diverse communities. As founder of Challenge the Stats, a concert series celebrating artists of color, and artistic director for the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble (UYHE), a free harp program serving over 90 harpists in Atlanta (90% of whom are students of color), Hairston is leading the way towards empowering artists of color and diversifying the field of classical music.

“It was an honor and a huge surprise to have been awarded one of the 2019 Governor’s Awards,” shares Hairston. “I’ve called Georgia home for most of my life and my southern roots have always been deeply influential. Being a part of making Georgia more equitable through the tool of the arts has been core to my time with Challenge the Stats and the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble. I’m very humbled to have been recognized with this prestigious award and to have had one of my UYHE harp students, Jabari Freeman, perform a tribute at the ceremony in the Georgia State Capitol. As one of the youngest recipients in the history of the award, I’m reminded that you’re never too young to have a lifetime of meaningful impact.”

Jabari Freeman, a member of the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, performing Deborah Henson–Conant’s “Baroque Flamenco” at the ceremony for the 2019 governor’s awards

In addition to her work as an advocate for the arts, Hairston has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and the Daytona Solisti Chamber Orchestra. She is a teaching artist at Harp Column Academy and was recently selected as a fellow for SphinxLead. Learn more about her at or read our Q + A with her here.


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