In 2019, Carnegie Hall presented Migrations: The Making of America, its largest citywide festival to date, which traced how large-scale movements of people—both to and within our country—have helped shape American arts, culture, and society. Three migrations were explored through programming at Carnegie Hall: the crossings from Scotland and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries, the immigration of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe between 1881 and the National Origins Act of 1924, and the Great Migration—the exodus of African Americans from the South to the industrialized cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1917 into the 1970s.
Soul Mechanism, a creative learning project for young people across NYC, invited songwriters from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute to engage with their family histories and the legacies of their communities. They created new works about migration, immigration, home, and what it means to belong, which were shared in a one-night concert experience in May 2019. Celebrated performer Toshi Reagon led a concert that featured young songwriters sharing the stage with her longtime collaborators American roots songstress Martha Redbone, Alsarah and the Nubatones bandleader Alsarah, jazz and gospel vocalist Lizz Wright, singer-songwriter and filmmaker Be Steadwell, and activist-artist Taina Asili.