Photo: Lea with Tom Attah (guitar), Blues oan de Staozze, Hamme, Belgium
One of the world's
most respected inspirational vocalists, social justice and human rights
advocates, song leader, and writer… Lea Gilmore has been said to command a
"rich and passionate voice in all ways . . . a gift from her soul to our
ears and our heart." The jazz, blues, folk and gospel vocalist has lent
her voice, literally and figuratively, to advocacy for the under-served around
the globe and in her own backyard.
Named by Essence
Magazine as one of "25 Women Shaping the World," Lea is a past winner
of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive" award(the
“Grammies of the Blues”) for her historical work on womens’ contributions to the
Blues. Lea is the recipient of the 2016 Golden Formstone Award from Baltimore's
Creative Alliance for her efforts with community arts and commitment to social
justice. She was also recently hailed by the Jazz Journalists Association
as the 2018 Baltimore Jazz Hero for her work in music and social justice.
For the Father Damien
Foundation, head-quarted in Brussels, Belgium, Lea lead Gospel concerts across
Belgium with Belgian youth, church, classical and community choirs, all
performing African American Gospel music to sold out audiences at cathedrals,
arenas and cultural centers. She recorded three Gospel CDs and filmed a
documentary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, raising funds for the Foundation
providing healing and resources for those with leprosy and tuberculosis in
Africa, Asia and The Americas.
She has received other
recognitions for her dedication to equality and justice, including being named
one of the first recipients of the James Baldwin Medal for Civil Rights for her
work championing LGBTQ equality. In addition: Lea served four terms on
the Maryland Advisory Board for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has worked
diligently for reproductive justice for Native American women (indeed, all
women), and is a staunch and vocal supporter for justice for all. Lea co-authored
and coordinated the publication “Reproductive Justice in Communities of Color”
for the National Abortion Federation. She has served as the Deputy
Director of the ACLU of Maryland; Policy Director and Director of Community
Outreach for Equality Maryland, where she directed the Maryland Black Family
Alliance (MBFA) and Pride in Faith. She directed and managed the
African-American Philanthropy Initiative while Program Director for the
Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG)
Ms. Gilmore is the
founder and director of “Umoja (meaning "Unity" in Swahili) Musica,”
an international effort promoting non-violence, peace and human rights,
embracing the power and reach of African-American traditional music in union
with the traditional music of other cultures. The critically acclaimed first
CD, "Umoja Gaelica" featured award winning African American musicians
and traditional musicians from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England, singing
songs of freedom and hope. The project will be reprised and recorded in 2020 in
Scotland, with a focus on youth participation.
A proud Baltimorean and graduate of Morgan State University with a degree in political science and minor in economics; after the “Uprising” in Baltimore City following the death of Freddie Gray, she organized a series of “Community Sings” to bring various parts of the community together to inspire work for change. This work continues.
Lea is a member of Pi
Gamma Mu, the International Honor Society for the Social Sciences.
Lea has performed,
lectured and inspired around the world (UK, Europe, Russia, Africa...), heading
sold out concerts and workshops for all ages often focused on the intersection
of the arts and social justice/activism.
Lea currently serves
as the Minister for Racial Justice and Multicultural Engagement and First Service Music Director for Govans Presbyterian Church in
Baltimore, Maryland, where she plans to pursue
her calling to ordained ministry.
Lea is known for her bright smile, quick wit, tenacity and infectious sense of humor as well as her exquisite voice. Those qualities are much admired, as is life-long commitment to equality, justice and freedom for all.
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