School of Music alumna receives MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’


Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation

Reid received her Master of Music from DePaul in 2002.

The MacArthur Foundation awarded DePaul School of Music Alumna, Tomeka Reid, a “Genius Grant” earlier this week for her “extraordinary originality and dedication” in her craft as a jazz cellist, composer and improviser. 

The foundation selects between 20 and 30 citizens or residents of the U.S. each year to the fellowship. Reid is one of three Chicagoans awarded a “Genius Grant” this year. 

Reid, who received her Master of Music degree from DePaul in 2002, will receive $800,000 from the MacArthur foundation. Recipients of the grant may use it for whatever they please, as the foundation says “the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential.”

By phone from Germany, where she currently plays as the artist in residence at the Moers Festival, Reid told the Sun-Times that being chosen for the grant is a “huge honor.”

In 2013, Reid founded the Chicago Jazz String Summit and continues to oversee the festival today. In 2015, the Chicago Tribune named Reid the Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz, and later she was named a “Chicago Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2017.

In awarding her with the grant, the MacArthur Foundation called Reid a “versatile player, collaborator and improviser” with a “unique jazz sound that draws from a range of music traditions.”

Reid recently told NPR that she plans to use the funds from the grant to pay fellow musicians to record some of her compositions and enjoy some well-earned time to relax.