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The UCLA Music Library, one of 12 UCLA Library locations, presents “My Life in the Sunshine: Sampling the Soundscape of Black Los Angeles." On view through Dec 20 in Schoenberg Music Building, the display, co-curated by two UCLA graduate students, celebrates the innovation and diversity of L.A.'s Black musical communities, underscoring their impact on the city and music industry as a whole.

“My Life in the Sunshine” features genres from gospel to g-funk and showcases photographs, books, playbills, sheet music, vinyl records and CDs from the Music Library, Arts Library, UCLA Library Special Collections and UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.

Included are prominent Black Angelenos such as Bridget "Biddy" Mason, co-founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) in 1872, and mid-century music educator and composer William Grant Still, along with other musicians and composers historically excluded from the narratives of Los Angeles music-making. Significant locations are also spotlighted, including Jewel’s Catch One, one of the first Black gay-owned discos in the United States, founded by Jewel Thais-Williams in 1973.

“I was happy to have the opportunity to further see the historical extent of Black music in Los Angeles. For instance, as early as the early 1900s there were influential Black musical traditions in Los Angeles including the Azusa Street Revival,” said co-curator Blair Black, Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, 2023; M.L.I.S., 2025. “I hope that viewers of the display come away understanding that, like everywhere in the U.S., Black communities have been central to the development of various facets of the musical landscape in Los Angeles, past, present and emerging.”


Co-sponsored by the Music Library and UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, the project was produced with support from a UCLA Chancellor’s Arts Initiative grant and the Library(opens in a new tab). It was co-curated by Black and Sabrina Langois, M.M. (Voice), 2023, and organized by music librarians Callie Holmes and Matthew Vest.

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