Joshuah Brian Campbell
Joshuah Brian Campbell, 25, is a singer, songwriter, composer, ministry worker, and actor originally from Cheraw, South Carolina, a small hometown he proudly shares with Dizzy Gillespie.
In 2017, he won the SC Jazz Festival’s inaugural composition competition in the trumpeter’s honor. Joshuah grew up groomed by Southern Black gospel traditions, and this grounding serves as his vantage point to all vocal music. His approach to singing—and to improvising with the voice—is holistic, having sung everything from jazz to soul to choral repertoire. He has been blessed to learn from and perform for Vijay Iyer, Yosvany Terry, Esperanza Spalding, and Catherine Russell, among others. In 2016, Joshuah graduated from Harvard College with a joint concentration in music and Romance languages and literatures (French and francophone studies). Joshuah’s thesis recital project on Black American musicians’ historic relationship to Paris won a prestigious Hoopes Prize. He spent time after graduation on fellowship in Paris, and he taught briefly as a teaching artist for Boston’s The Theatre Offensive. He took part in the 2017 Banff workshop in jazz and creative music, and the 2018 workshop “Resonant Bodies.” He is currently a third-year master of divinity student at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where does work in Hebrew and Greek translation, Christian/faith education, biblical interpretation, and Black religious studies.
Joshuah’s performance and writing practice draws deeply upon Black oral traditions, trots the lines between genres, and does not shy away from using music as a tool for engaging folks to act, to do, and to change. His piece “Sing Out/March On,” (music and lyrics by JBC, produced by Elio DeLuca, JBC, Ethan Simon), a protest song written at the one of Black Lives Matter’s heights, raised significant funds for the SPLC and was performed to honor Congressman John Lewis at Harvard’s 2018 commencement. In 2019, he played Nat Turner in the New York Musical Festival’s workshop of the new musical Brother Nat (book/lyrics by Liana Asim and Jabari Asim, score by Alyssa Jones and Damien Sneed, dir. Jeffrey Page). Joshuah currently music directs the national touring cast of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom. This new musical is set to traditional and original gospel and freedom songs and tells the true story of Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest person to walk all the way from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on the Voting Rights March in 1965. Since 2018, Joshuah has been an ensemble member in Imani Uzuri's chamber opera entitled Hush Arbor, with performances at Harlem Stage and Lincoln Center.
In 2019, Joshuah co-wrote and composed the end title song, “Stand Up” sung by Cynthia Erivo in the hit film, Harriet, starring Erivo, Leslie Odom and Janelle Monáe. The song “Stand Up” (co-written by Cynthia Erivo, produced by Will Wells and Gabe Fox-Peck). won The Hollywood Music In Media Award and The Society of Composers & Lyricists Award for best original song. “Stand Up” was also nominated for four additional awards - The Golden Globe, The Critics’ Choice, The Academy (Oscars), and NAACP Image Awards. In 2019, Joshuah performed “Stand Up” and “Sing Out/March On” alongside Terence Blanchard (composer of Harriet), Quiana Lynell, and the Carpenter Family at Carnegie Hall. In October 2020, Joshuah won the World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Song for “Stand Up”. He was also nominated in 2020 for a Grammy Award Best Song Written for Visual Media “Stand Up” As 2021 progresses, Joshuah is collaborating to bring several projects to life, including a solo project.
Joshuah believes music is church and home and bodies in motion and people trying to change things with the power they have been given. He credits his success to God, his parents Brian and Linda, his brother Damian, his entire family—given and chosen—and to a robust upbringing in the sandhills of his beloved South Carolina.
© photo: Hakeem Angulu