The UNESCO Creative Cities of Music and Literature



The Voyage of the Drum Part 2

Tell the Story, Sing the Healing

Kansas City joined the UNESCO Creative City Network (UCCN) as the first and only City of Music in the United States in 2017.  In 2021, Kansas City launched The Voyage of the Drum – an online music experience focused on sharing the role of the drum in cities around the world. This project involved the cooperation of 20 UCCN Cities connected through music to recognize the impact of the African diaspora on musical cultures around the world. The Voyage of the Drum was presented at the UCCN Annual Conference in Santos, Brazil in July 2022.

On September 28, 2022, Creative City KC, Inc. – the focal point organization for Kansas City – hosted representatives of West African nations in Kansas City to deliver the message of a formal apology for their part in the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Letters were read from Chieftains from Accra, Ahanta, West Ghana and Nigeria. This solemn ceremony was held at the site of Quindaro in Kansas City, Kansas – a town on the Underground Railroad Network, which freed the Black enslaved in the U.S. Traditional music was provided by drummers Bill Summers and Bird Ellington Fleming, and the event was attended by the Mayor and other local elected officials.


Building on the success of the Voyage of the Drum and these on-going efforts of recognition, in 2023 Kansas City and Utrecht will host the UNESCO Creative Cities in a new chapter of creativity called Words to Music: The Voyage of the Drum Part 2.

Together, this project will address the legacy of the enslavement era and the opportunities that member cities in the UCCN Creative City Network can play in creative efforts to promote awareness and healing in 2023. This project also acknowledges the UN’s International Decade of People of African Descent (2015-2024). For this project, we seek a cooperative relationship between the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature and the UCCN Cities of Music. Together, we propose to promote awareness, understanding and healing through words and music.

Words to Music” reflects the written and oral histories of the enslaved African people across the world, pairing authors and writers with musicians who will create and perform songs and poems from these writings and original compositions for world concerts and present literary conversations based on the WORDS of humanity (past and present) put to MUSIC and presented throughout the cities and continents where Africans were enslaved.

Words to Music: The Voyage of the Drum Part 2 will highlight the diverse cultures influenced by the African diaspora, which gave birth to some of the greatest writers and songs of all time, proof positive that out of extreme adversity, the creativity of Jazz and Literacy can change the world.

“Words to Music” provides a creative framework for apologies from the former enslavers, recognition of cities as sites of enslavement, and the creation of a tremendous artistic database (video and sound recordings) for education and cultural heritage preservation. The series provides an opportunity for global concerts, literary panels, live performances to open the door for the much-needed dialogue between different cities across the African diaspora today.

We call for the participation of all UCCN Cities around the world to address the legacy of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade through Words to Music: The Voyage of the Drum Part 2.

The Cities of Kansas City Missouri, USA (Music) and Utrecht, Netherlands (Literature) call for contributions to this unique project. Building on the cooperation between Music and Literature – the members of UCCN Creative Cities Network will work together with musicians, poets, writers, and creative designers to promote creative efforts for awareness and healing in 2023.

Past Projects

The Voyage of the Drum