Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence Program


These selected artists will begin their term with UniSound starting on November 1, 2023, and end on July 31, 2024, for a period of nine months. In addition to engaging with UniSound and its partners throughout the residency, the BTARs will present a culminating project (i.e. workshop, recital, talk, etc.) of their choosing at the end of the residency period.

Program Alignment with Organization Mission and Goals

The BTAR program will allow the selected Black teaching artist to build mutually beneficial relationships with UniSound members and partners that will:

  • Cultivate a cadre of new culturally and musically diverse collaborations among teaching artists, students, and youth music organizations throughout the Greater Pittsburgh region
  • Introduce disparate approaches to repertoire development and musical pedagogy beyond the traditional Eurocentric canon to UniSound members and partners
  • Provide professional development support and additional income-generating
    opportunities for traditionally under-supported Black teaching artists in the Greater Pittsburgh region
  • Expose the Black teaching artist’s current student roster to a larger pool of music education and performance opportunities. Therefore, demonstrating UniSound’s commitment to making music programming more equitable and accessible to families and youth throughout the Greater Pittsburgh region

Each BTAR will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 for their participation in the program. Additionally, the BTAR will receive opportunities for professional mentorship, networking, and up to $2,000 in additional resources for developing their artistic practice and career. There will also be opportunities to work with local schools and organizations which will pay $200 per event (with a limit of five events per BTAR).

Applications are not being accepted at this time. If you have any questions about the program or how to apply, please contact us at  

Meet our 2023-24 Black Teaching Artists-In-Residence!

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2023-24

Yusef Shelton Da First, also known as Ys1, emerges as a trailblazing artist from the heart of Pittsburgh, Homewood PA. Yusef’s music reflects his life experiences in the inner city while blending raw talent and compelling storytelling. Overcoming adversity, Yusef turned pain into purpose, birthing a professional career from shattered beginnings. His journey led to original music, business grants, and performances at prestigious venues throughout Pittsburgh. Yusef’s resilience is encapsulated in his “Da First” merch line, urging supporters to embrace authenticity. Recent releases include three mixtapes and the 2023 album “Ignite,” recorded during a residency at New Hazlett Theater.

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2023-24

Pittsburgh native ANQWENIQUE is an extremely versatile vocalist and educator specializing in opera, classical music, jazz, and soul. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Voice Performance from Indiana University of PA. She has performed and collaborated with Staycee Pearl Dance Project, Chamber Music Pittsburgh, Attack Theater, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, BOOM Concepts, composer Daniel Bernard Romain, Luna Loba Collective/Shey Rivera-Rios, Nicole Mitchell, and many others. Anqwenique has been recognized with many awards and opportunities for her creative work. In 2017 she was named “Best Singer” by the Pittsburgh Magazine readers poll and listed among Who’s Next in Music by The Incline and 40 Under 40 by Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP. She alongside her husband and visual artist DS Kinsel became the first artist in residence at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, PA as part of a collaboration with BOOM Concepts. She most recently was a recipient of the 2023 Aggie Award by the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation for her community work through the arts and completed the 3rd SCALE Fellowship cohort, a program of the Equity Impact Center for Black women in music.  Anqwenique also has a history of working in collaboration across disciplines in visual art, photography, performance art, and immersive theater. 

As a long-time educator and teaching artist, Anqwenique serves learners from early childhood to adulthood. In addition to her vocal and performance practice, ANQWENIQUE consults frequently as a teaching artist, program designer, and cultural advisor. She was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in 2018 to create an original story for early childhood audiences in collaboration with composer Doug Levine entitled Jazz Time! Her workshop series Just SING!, singing for wellness and self-care is supported by Duolingo and The Opportunity Fund.

Learn About UniSound’s Previous BTARs

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2022

Danielle Walker (she/her), professionally known as INEZ, is an entrepreneurial Renaissance creative and provocateur agent of change by way of Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. INEZ, a Cum Laude, Berklee College of Music alumna, is a musical polymath who utilizes singing, songwriting, music production, arranging, drumming, audio mixing, mastering, engineering, and live performance to round out her musical and teaching artist practices. INEZ considers her artistry as “genre-fluid”, using elements of R&B, Soul, Hip Hop Gospel, Jazz, and World genres to create her work. Following the 2019 release of her debut album, “Voicemails and Conversations”, INEZ has been featured on NPR Weekend Edition, Bandcamp Daily Essentials, and despite the confines of COVID-19, performed on the digital mainstage of The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, headlined City Theatre’s Drive-In Arts Festival at Hazelwood Green, and performed on local PBS station WQED. In January 2021, INEZ was named “Pittsburgh Music Artist of the Year” for 2020 by Pittsburgh’s WYEP 91.3 FM and was accepted into Limelight Creative’s SCALE Fellowship; an individualized artist development and entrepreneurial skill-building fellowship designed to advance the careers of Black women in music. In November 2021, INEZ became the recipient of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award as the Emerging Artist awardee. 
INEZ is the CEO and owner of From INEZ With Love LLC, a full-service music company founded in 2018. In 2020, INEZ co-founded BLKNVMBR; a media platform, artist development incubator, and music community resource liaison for Black R&B and R&B-adjacent musicians and artists in Pittsburgh. INEZ hopes to continue using the fullness of her gifts to create space for and uplift the voices and talents of Black girls, femmes, and women, foremost in Pittsburgh, and internationally. 

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2022

Idasa Tariq, also known as ‘SoulMan IT’, is a Hip Hop Multimedia Artist from Pittsburgh, PA by way of Binghamton, NY. He began writing poetry, R&B, and Hip Hop song lyrics in 2001 and started learning music production and graphic design the following year while still in high school. Being influenced by artists such as Gil Scott-Heron, Blackstar (Talib Kweli & Yasiin Bey), and the Last Poets, SoulMan IT set out to continue the legacy of making “music with a message” within Hip Hop and its related art forms.

Since 2008, SoulMan IT has produced songs for Dominique Larue, Jasiri X, Jacquea Mae, Jordan Montgomery, LiveFromTheCity, Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A., and other music artists from the East Coast and Mid-East regions. In addition, he has built his own music catalog containing5 studio albums and 6 EPs, as well as performing for Pharoahe Monche. In 2016 he was featured on AllHipHop’s last annual “Top 25 Underground Hip Hop Artists of 2015” list.

In 2013, SoulMan IT joined the 1Hood Media Academy and served as a teaching artist and Assistant Creative Director until 2018. At the Media Academy, he would work with other talented and community-driven artists in providing Hip Hop workshops & performances that fostered media literacy amongst Pittsburgh’s Black Youth & schools.

In 2016, he joined Guardians of Sound’s Hip Hop Youth Orchestra as a teaching artist, teaching Hip Hop songwriting and music production within small acoustic bands and large ensemble formats. In being a part of the Hip Hop Orchestra, the teaching artists were not only able to provide music production and songwriting skills, but also music instrument learning and performances to youth who have little-to-no access to these kinds of music programming in their own schools and neighborhoods.

Currently, SoulMan is working on 2 Hip Hop albums, “tilted” and “Ramadan in Babylon”, and creating his own multimedia and content house to further provide media education and access to the youth & elderly.

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2022

Roger Rafael Romero — better known as Feralcat — is rewriting the rules for saxophone music. He’s no sideman or session player; he’s a frontman and a rock star. Genre? You’ll find him where jazz rubs shoulders with hardcore punk, prog-metal, and synth-pop. Which is to say, where it’s never been before.
He presented Disassembly, his most ambitious project yet, in March of 2022. It’s a two-part album, which is set to soundtrack Romero’s first video game. Both works — developing in tandem, and still in progress — were presented at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theater in March, in a sweeping multi-media experience that will usher in Feralcat’s new era.
Romero grew up in a Dominican-American household in New Jersey, where he absorbed the rhythms of Latin music from his parents, uncle, and grandfather — all musicians. “All that music was there all the time, so rhythm and melody are my bread and butter for everything,” Romero explains. As a budding saxophone player, he played in jazz groups through his school years; yet at the same time, he immersed himself in New Jersey’s famously fertile punk and hardcore scene, where he found a voice screaming in heavy bands.
When he moved to Pittsburgh for college, he thought he’d make something of himself in engineering. But the lifelong thread that tied him to music was too strong to resist. Quitting his job as a chemist, he worked as a music teacher and session player, while playing in the jazz fusion band Eastend Mile. In 2018, after that group’s dissolution, he began plotting a musical identity that would truly represent him: Feralcat.
“I was really trying to counteract this ‘sexy sax’ image that I didn’t like at all. It was commodifying, it was dehumanizing, and it was something I heard constantly screaming at me. It made me wanna go the entirely opposite direction,” says Romero, who is backed up in Feralcat and the Wild by Aedan Symmons (guitar), Matt Elias (guitar), Chris “Trip” Trepagnier (bass), and Allen Bell (drums). On the project’s debut self-titled EP (2019), he made that statement boldly, with a musical style that wouldn’t be put in a box. Influences like Underoath and Circa Survive were as treasured as those of Esperanza Spalding and Robert Glasper. It was chaotic and daring, and yet fully realized; and most of all, it was punk rock as hell. “That was an era of music that I really held dear,” says Romero of his punk and metal inspirations. “But as a saxophone player, I don’t really have space there. So I wanted to make it.”
The EP, plus Youtube covers of artists like Paramore and The Weeknd, built Feralcat and the Wild a buzz that had them positioned to play at 2020’s South By South West festival. But when the world shut down before that could happen, Romero needed to find a new way to keep his creative spark alive. It was from this that Disassembly was born. His love for Japanese video games like Final FantasyChrono Trigger, and The Legend of Zelda, plus influence from video game composers Nobui Uematsu, Koji Kondo, and Toby Fox, led Feralcat into brand new realms. Chapter 1 introduces the story’s heroes and villains with moody synths, enchanting classical accents, and gorgeous, expressive saxophone melodies. Meanwhile, Chapter 2 expands the tale with full-band accompaniment.
It’s another compelling left turn into a world entirely Feralcat’s own. But what’s all the more impressive is that Romero achieved this singularity simply by being entirely true to himself. “I need this space to exist, for instrumental music that comes from a background like mine,” he says. Now, all doors are wide open, and there’s no telling where they lead.

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2021

Afro-Latina soprano Dr. Zuly Inirio hails from the Dominican Republic and has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States and Europe. Her roles include Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw, First Lady in The Magic Flute, Gertrud in Hansel und Gretel, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, and scenes from Ariadne auf Naxos, Götterdämmerung, Falstaff, and Albert Herring. She was part of Opera Louisiane’s The Ring (reduced) and where she performed the roles of Wellgunde, Ortlinde, and 2nd Norn.

Ms. Inirio is also well-versed in concert work and as a recitalist, most notably in the Lyrica Dialogues Organized by the Lyrica Society at Harvard in Boston, MA where she debuted Carson Cooman’s Sunset. She also performed Jake Heggie’s Natural Selection in Baton Rouge, LA where she worked with the composer directly. Most recently, she was highlighted in Austin Opera’s Concerts at the Consulate.

European highlights include soprano soloist for the Verdi Requiem in Munich, Germany at Allerheiligenkirche under the baton of Massimiliano Murrali and singing High Priestess while covering the title role in Verdi’s Aida with the Mythos Opera Festival in Sicily, Italy.

In 2022, Ms. Inirio will perform the role of Isabelle in Mizzy Mazzoli’s Song of the Uproar with The Demaskus Theater Collective in Pittsburgh, PA, and as part of her Afro-Latinx Song & Opera Project will be performing a series of recitals for the University of Pittsburgh, Chamber Music Pittsburgh, and East Liberty Presbyterian Church.

Zuly Inirio holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree and a Master of Music Degree from Louisiana State University where she was the recipient of a full-tuition scholarship. She completed her Bachelor of Music Degree at New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL where she was also a recipient of a full-tuition scholarship. Ms. Inirio currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA.

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2021

Anita Levels is a vocal artist, voice influencer, songwriter, and producer who began singing at the age of 3 years old in Frankfurt, West Germany. Texas-born, being a preacher’s kid, and a member of a musical family from New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A, singing, and performance are in her blood.

Anita’s powerhouse, soulful, but lark-like vocals have graced national and international audiences. She has performed in London, England, has toured the country of Holland with world-renowned ethnomusicologist, Dr. Portia Maultsby,  was featured in the NFL’s Super Bowl 50 commemorative commercial, has appeared in the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, and has performed in many, many other private, public and virtual events.

Ms. Levels has a plethora of original music on all streaming music platforms and enjoys sharing the history and influence of Black American music on the world and American culture.

Anita Levels, MS, has a Master’s Degree in Training and Development from Carlow University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) and believes that instrumentation and the voice have the innate ability to vibrate truth, healing, and thought.  Anita’s more recent venture is, Corn and Potatoes Are Good For You, a podcast exploring the soul’s journey through all things spiritual and sensual.

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2020

Lyn Starr is a young multi-talented performing artist from Pittsburgh, PA. He began his journey in music at 10 years old when he started singing jazz at the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood and then moved toward classical music once he started to attend Rogers CAPA Middle School. At about 15, inspired by the multifaceted career of Donald Glover, Lyn fell in love with being a rapper. He started creating original songs, and at 17 he started his own music label, High Five Productions because he wanted a platform to perform and release his music. All the while, he continued to hone his vocal skills by completing his primary schooling at CAPA High school and attending Seton Hill University as a vocal performance major, graduating in 2018. His diverse background has provided a platform to perform operas, musicals, solo recitals, solo Hip Hop shows, and more. As we fast forward to 2020, he shifted his focus towards R&B music. Lyn learned that his years as a rapper have improved his writing abilities and his classical training has polished his voice. With that, he’s found that R&B music flows easily to him and he’s excited to continue his musical journey. Lyn has released five mixtapes and five EPs to date, along with several singles and other music projects. Tierra, released in December 2020, is his most recent release. Lyn is the CEO and founder of High Five Productions LLC; an entertainment company dedicated to providing quality art for the world.

Aside from performing, Lyn is also an active teaching artist. His lessons include Hip Hop writing workshops, voice lessons, music theory, music production, marketing & branding, and so much more. At the moment, Lyn is producing an opera workshop called, Little Opera. The program will be facilitated by local teaching artist and opera singer Candace Burgess and will explore the original Hip-hop Opera of Rumpelstiltskin by Lyn Starr through storytelling, creative play, singing, & other exciting musical activities.

Currently, Lyn lives in Los Angeles, California, where he is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Industry at the University of Southern California. He is also continuing to expand his career and outreach by performing in a variety of shows in Los Angeles, San Diego, and even Las Vegas. With this expansion into new markets, Lyn has his eyes set on an East Coast tour within the next year.


Lyn Starr

Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence 2020

Prize-winning flutist Dr. Brittany Trotter leads a diverse career as an educator, soloist, and collaborator. She joined the faculty of University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA, in the fall of 2021. Trotter previously served on the faculties of Dickinson College, West Virginia Wesleyan College, and Duquesne University. She is program chair of the Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention, competition coordinator for the NFA’s Junior Soloist Competition, and serves on the development committee of the Umoja Flute Institute, NFA’s career and artistic development committee, and publicity chair for the Flute New Music Consortium.

Trotter has been awarded first prize in numerous national and regional competitions including the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition in woodwinds in the states of West Virginia (2017, 2016), Wyoming (2015, 2014), and Mississippi (2009). She has also competed as a semi-finalist in the 2017 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Trotter has performed in the flute sections of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, and Colour of Music Festival Orchestra, among others. Equally versed in post-classical contemporary and experimental music as well as electro-acoustic music and interdisciplinary works, she has performed and premiered new works with Pittsburgh-based new music ensemble, Alia Musica.

Trotter regularly performs, teaches, and serves as a guest lecturer throughout the United States. Recent appearances include Virginia Tech University, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Southwestern Oklahoma University, and Missouri Southern State University. Trotter has performed and presented at numerous regional and national flute conventions such as the Kentucky Flute Fair, Florida Flute Association Convention, Rochester Flute Fair, Mid-Atlantic flute convention, and the National Flute Association Convention where she was a featured soloist in the 2020 virtual summer series celebration concert series.

Recipient of the NFA’s 2020 Graduate Research Competition for her dissertation entitled, Examining Music Hybridity and Cultural Influences in Valerie Coleman’s Wish Sonatine and Fanmi Imen, Trotter continues to actively study the merging of western classical music, diverse culture, and modern popular music. She recently presented a lecture-recital entitled “Flute & Hip Hop” as part of her artist-in-residence with Unisound of Pittsburgh. Her passion for engaging with underrepresented communities through classical music has led her to collaborate with several local nonprofits. She has served as the program coordinator for the Guardian of Sound’s Hip Hop Orchestra Summer Music Camp and as a teaching artist for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education.

A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Dr. Trotter has received degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi (BM, BME), University of Wyoming (M.M.), and West Virginia University (DMA, Certificate of University Teaching). Her primary teachers include Danilo Mezzadri, Nicole Riner, and Nina Assimakopoulous.


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