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No Tears Project

The No Tears Project at the Oxford American uses music and conversation to educate and engage communities with stories about civil rights. As an arts outreach program, the No Tears Project strives to create recognition as a precursor to reconciliation.

View footage from our 2023 No Tears residencies in St. Louis and Memphis here!

The No Tears Project is a touring arts outreach program that presents concerts, conducts workshops, and facilitates dialogue about civil rights history. 

The project originated in 2016 when Oxford American commissioned pianist Christopher Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt to write a sixty-minute composition of new music honoring the civil rights heroes, the Little Rock Nine; Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrance Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls. Entitled No Tears Suite, the music premiered in 2017 during events commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of Little Rock Central High School's historic 1957 desegregation. 


Realizing the power of music to inspire greater recognition of civil rights stories, Parker and Hurt have led their septet in subsequent No Tears Project residencies in cities across the United States. Past ensemble members have included multiple GRAMMY-winner Brian Blade, multiple GRAMMY-nomniee Rufus Reid, Roland Guerin, Bobby LaVell, Bill Huntington, Jamel Mitchell, Marc Franklin, and Chad Fowler. 

In partnership with Oxford American, local presenters, and artistic collaborators, the No Tears Project residencies build upon the original work to engage host communities about their own civil rights history through concerts, master classes, and panel discussions.


  • At Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood District – historic Black Wall Street

  • Collaborations with songwriter John Fullbright

  • In partnership with Woody Gunthrie Center and Vernon AME Church


  • At Fayetteville Public Library

  • Collaborations with the band Smokey & The Mirror

  • In partnership with Fayetteville ROOTS Festival and the University of Arkansas Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education

  •  In partnership with National Park Service, Little Rock Central High School National Historical Site, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and Episcopal Collegiate School


  • Marigny Studios, New Orleans (streaming)

  • Collaborations with saxophonist Kidd Jordan

  • In partnership with National Park Service, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and University of New Orleans


  • At Mosiac Templars Cultural Center and Little Rock Central High School 

  • Premiere of expanded symphonic arrangements of No Tears Suite written by and featuring
    GRAMMY-nominated bassist Rufus Reid, conducted by Geoffrey Robson and featuring Arkansas Symphony Orchestra members

The original No Tears Suite studio recording was released on Mahakala Music in 2020. You can purchase the album online,

or stream it on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Music.