Ruth Naomi Floyd
"Floyd's voice highlights not only her superb dynamic control, flexibility and faultless diction, but also her most important asset: an unmistakable emotional integrity that conveys her music's power.”
~ The Times London
A vocalist and composer, Ruth Naomi Floyd has created a discography dedicated to a sacred jazz expression. She has been at the forefront of creating vocal jazz settings that express theology and justice for over 25 years. She leads her own multi-faceted ensemble and her recordings consist primarily of original compositions. Blessed with a soaring mezzo-soprano voice, critics praise Ms. Floyd’s music for its distinctive sound of progressive ensemble jazz that is seamlessly blended with messages of hope, faith, redemption, and love. Ms. Floyd has recorded and performed with such notable instrumentalists as James Newton, James Weidman, Gary Thomas, John Patitucci, Terri Lyne Carrington, George Cables, Bobby Watson, Aaron Graves, Matthew Parrish, Mark Prince, Byron Lanham, Bryan Carrot, Keith Loftis, Uri Caine, Craig Handy and many more.
Rooted and grounded in a faith ethos, Ms. Floyd has been a presence and worker in areas of the arts and justice throughout her and career. Ms. Floyd has lectured prolifically on the intersection of beauty, theology, justice, culture, and the arts at numerous universities, seminaries, conferences, and academic settings around the world.
A committed music educator, Ms. Floyd is Director of Jazz Studies at Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania and an Adjunct and Artist in Residence at Temple University. Previously, Ms. Floyd taught music for twenty 20 years at The City School.
Ms. Floyd’s recent compositions include “Freedom” which premiered in April 2018 in Wales, United Kingdom. Commissioned in honor of human rights activist, “Freedom” is Mende Nazer’s profound story of survival as a slave in Sudan and London.
In the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center, in partnership with NEWorks Productions, commissioned Ms. Floyd as one of four composers to create a community mass inspired by Bernstein’s MASS, that explores anew the relevance of faith in our times. The Frederick Douglass Jazz Works is Ms. Floyd’s new body of compositions for jazz septet, based on the speeches and writings of the great leading orator, abolitionist, writer, publisher, and statesman. In partnership with Intercultural Journeys, Ruth is commissioned to compose a musical work for 2021 in honor of the legacy and activism of the great contralto Marion Anderson.
Ms. Floyd is also an award-winning fine art photographer specializing in black and white portrait images. She uses silver-based films with 35mm and 4x5 inch view cameras to capture her images and uses traditional wet darkroom technology as well as digital printing on archival papers to produce her final images. Ms. Floyd has received awards, prizes, and grants for her photographic images, and her work is included in permanent and private collections. Ms. Floyd’s photographic images have been published in and on the covers of magazines, brochures, and music compact discs.
Ruth’s artistic works have been published in periodicals and articles, in addition, she contributed a chapter in the books: “It Was Food: Making Music to the Glory of God,” edited by Ned Bustard, Square Halo Books; and “The Problem of Good,” edited by D. Marion Clark, R&R Publishing.
Ms. Floyd was awarded the prestigious Kimmel Center’s Jazz Residency for the 2019-2020 season. In December 2019, Concordia College -New York, awarded Ms. Floyd an Honorary Doctorate for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work.
Ms. Floyd continues to make the city of Philadelphia her home, where for over twenty-five years she has been devoted and active in providing compassionate care and spiritual support to people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in Philadelphia and Africa; Ms. Floyd also serves the transgendered community.