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DePaul alumna named MacArthur 'genius'

Tomeka Reid
(Image courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)

Tomeka Reid, a graduate of the School of Music, has been named a member of the 2022 MacArthur Fellows program​. Reid is a jazz cellist, composer and improviser who creates unique music that draws from various traditions. In 2002, she earned a Master of Music degree from DePaul.

"Tomeka is a formidable improvisor, composer, educator and visionary whose genius has long been recognized by her peers and the many festivals, organizations and institutions she has been invited to," says Dana Hall, a professor and director of jazz studies at DePaul. Hall and Reid have collaborated professionally on numerous ​​ensembles and projects​. Hall also ​​​​served as an advisor for her doctoral work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and as her jazz combo coach. ​

"It is extremely gratifying and most welcome that the MacArthur Foundation has also recognized her genius,"​ he says.​

​E​​ach year, the MacArthur Foundation awards unrestricted fellowships, commonly known as "Genius Grants,"​​ to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. The foundation recognized Reid​ for "forging a unique jazz sound that draws from a range of musical traditions and expanding the expressive possibilities of the cello in improvised music."​​​​​

“The School of Music congratulates Dr. Reid on being awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant,” says Kate Brucher, acting interim dean for the school. “It’s thrilling to see a graduate of the School of Music being recognized for her creative work, which is so innovative, yet grounded in the City of Chicago. Her work as a bandleader, cellist, composer and improviser demonstrates to current students the importance of collaboration of a core value of musicianship as well as the value of thinking across different musical genres to create something new that speaks to people.”

​The MacArthur Fellowship is a $800,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.​ Since the fellowship program's inception in 1981, the MacArthur Foundation has awarded more than 1,100 fellowships.​​

Learn more about Reid in the MacArthur Foundation video below.