Jasmine Habersham: Where did you grow up and how did you get into music?
Brittney Boykin: I grew up in Alexandria, VA. We had just moved to the DC area when I was about 10 years old and my parents signed me up for piano lessons with Mrs. Alma Sanford.
JH: Did you always have a passion for music composition, or did that come later?
B.E.: My parents say I’ve always been musical, probably as early as 3 years old. I wrote songs throughout middle and high school. I believe this created the foundation and it eventually evolved into other forms of compositions in my early adulthood.
JH: Who do you consider to be your greatest influences and mentors?
B.E.: I consider all of my teachers/mentors as influences. I wouldn’t be where/who I am without them. Their love and support have carried me a long way.
JH: How would you describe your compositions, and what elements or artists influence your music?
B.E.: I would hope that my compositions evoke some type of emotional response from the performer/listener. I’m doing my best to connect deeper with each text that is set because composing is normally a very spiritual experience for me. If it doesn’t resonate with me, it doesn’t make it to the paper…I’ve always been especially moved by the music of Margaret Bonds. The way she intertwines vocal, melodic lines with the piano accompaniment is something that is always inspiring me.
JH: Is there a particular movie/tv show or book that you would love to adapt into an opera? Who would you cast as the characters?
B.E.: Yes. I’m very interested in telling the story of the Phoenix, which is a slave ship that sank around 1762. The story, even though it is very grim, is one of those stories that needs to be told. And I, of course, would be honored if the entire cast were to be Black opera singers. There are so many talented singers within my community and I would love the opportunity to tell this story with them.
JH: You started your work composing for choruses and continue to compose a lot for voice. What do you love about choral music?
B.E.: Choral/vocal music is always going to be special for me. Being able to express yourself through words and melody is a beautiful thing.
JH: You recently composed your first opera for Minnesota Opera. What else do you have coming up? Where can we find your work?
B.E.: This chamber-like project experience was amazing. I loved working with the singers in real-time and working with a librettist. I’m so excited about the next thing coming up, but I’m not allowed to talk about it at the moment. But please follow me on social media for more details about when this project will be premiered! IG: @_klavia and B.E. Boykin on Facebook. You can listen to my music on my Soundcloud channel by searching for “B.E. Boykin” and make purchases from www.klaviapress.com
JH: How do we encourage women and girls to consider composing and conducting, two male-dominated fields?
B.E.: We can encourage them by giving them opportunities, not just because they’re womxn, but because they’re just as good and just as capable.
Learn more about B.E. Boykin at beboykin.com