We’re excited to announce the third season of Amplify with Lara Downes! Produced in collaboration with KUSC, KDFC, NPR Music, and Lara DownesAmplify is a monthly webseries featuring Lara’s revealing and open-hearted conversations with Black artists and cultural leaders about this new age of cultural renaissance. Guests this season include composer Terence Blanchard, comic W. Kamau Bell, James Beard Award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi, National Book Award-winning poet Robin Coste Lewis, linguist and author John McWhorter, pianist Gerald Clayton, multidisciplinary artist Samora Pinderhughes and conductor Jonathan Heyward.

You can watch each episode as they’re released right here.

Season 3 Episode 2: Jessie Montgomery

Musical America’s “Composer of the Year” for 2023, Jessie Montgomery joins Lara Downes for a discussion about her evolution from being a violinist with the Catalyst Quartet to becoming one of the most sought-after composers today, at a time when audiences and programmers are looking for better representation in the concert hall.

Season 3 Episode 1: Samara Joy

Lara Downes talked to Samara Joy, who’s just won 2 Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal album (Linger Awhile), and was the winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, about her recent rise to fame and what it means to sing jazz standards in the modern age.

Season Finale: Episode 12 with Ledisi

Episode 11 with Camille A. Brown

Episode 10 with Elaine Welteroth and Jonathan Singletary

Episode 9 with Will Liverman

Episode 8 with Randall Goosby

Episode 7 with Wynton Marsalis

Episode 6 with Tayari Jones

Episode 5 with Carl Rux

Episode 4 with Esperanza Spalding

Episode 3 with Regina Carter

Episode 2 with Rita Dove

Episode 1 with Kris Bowers

Created and hosted by pianist, artist/citizen and KUSC Resident Artist Lara Downes, and co-produced by NPR Music’s classical editor Tom Huizenga, this series invites viewers to experience revealing and open-hearted conversations reflecting on how artists are responding and creating in this time of profound challenge and change.

These video encounters are a clear representation of what Downes sees as, “the cusp of a new inclusion and diversity in classical music.” The one-on-one conversations are with cultural leaders who are forward-thinking and play a pivotal role in defining “a new era with bold vision, powerful mission and the inspiring energy of a transformative time.”

“It brings me great joy to hear from so many viewers that they are finding energy, inspiration and affirmation in these conversations,” says Downes. “Season 2 brings profound perspectives on life and art from a diverse line-up of guests including composers Kris Bowers and Jessie Montgomery, poet Rita Dove, violinist Regina Carter, and author Tayari Jones.”