Christian X. M. McGhee Awarded 2023 BMI Future Jazz Masters Award

Published: 04.18.2023

Above: BMI Foundation Representative Susan Bywaters, NEA Chair Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, 2023 NEA Jazz Master Kenny Garrett, 2023 NEA Jazz Master Regina Carter and 2023 NEA Jazz Master Louis Hayes, 2023 NEA Jazz Master Sue Mingus’ granddaughter, 2023 NEA Jazz Master Sue Mingus’ son, BMI’s Senior Director of Musical Theatre & Jazz Patrick Cook and 2023 BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship Winner Christian McGhee

April 18, 2023 - Christian X. M. McGhee was awarded the 2023 BMI Future Jazz Master Award at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) annual celebration of the Jazz Masters Fellows at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. McGhee was selected by a panel of NEA Jazz Masters for his talent and potential as a jazz performer and composer.

The BMI Future Jazz Master Award is a $5,000 career grant created in 2015 through a gift from BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) in honor of the long-standing NEA recognition program for jazz artists, creators, advocates and educators. The recipient is selected based on three examples of their work, at least one of which must be an original composition. The adjudication for the national competition is based on both performance artistry and compositional ability. Judges for the 2023 award included Terri Lyne Carrington and Delfeayo Marsalis. 

This year, for the first time, The Ahrold Family Commission is being introduced to accompany the award, adding $1,500 to the prize to create a new work for an ensemble of the winner’s choosing. The commission is generously funded by retired Vice President of Corporate Relations for BMI Robbin Ahrold and his wife, Kyle Ahrold. Mr. Ahrold, a lifelong student and appreciator of jazz, originated BMI’s involvement with the NEA Jazz Masters program and still serves the BMI Foundation as a consultant.

When asked about the award, Christian said, “It is such an honor to receive this award and I do not take it lightly or for granted. I’ve recently been working on recording my original music with my band, the Christian McGhee Xtet, and that's the music I submitted for this application. So, to have that music progress me to getting this award means the world!"

Christian X. M. McGhee, 24, is a multi-instrumentalist (drummer/pianist) and film composer, hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, now residing in New York City. Christian received a full tuition scholarship to the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, where he received his Bachelor's degree and will be graduating with his Master's degree in May 2023. He’s performed with artists such as Barry Harris, Stefon Harris, J'Nai Bridges, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Aaron Goldberg, Linda May Han Oh, Jon Faddis, David Wong, Gerald Cannon, Sasha Berliner, Joe Block, Victory Boyd, Keyon Harrold, Ray Chew, Gideon King and City Blog. Some of the Venues he has performed at are Carnegie Hall, NPR's Tiny Desk (Home), Blue Note, SFJazz, Dizzy’s Club, and Birdland jazz club. He’s also performed at the Vail, Newport, Montreal, Monterey, Toronto, Rochester, Washington D.C., SF Jazz and Exit Zero Jazz Festivals. 

As a film composer and in the sound design world he’s worked with brands Adobe, Budweiser, PBS. For PBS he is currently composing a kid’s tv show jingle and scoring a feature film documentary. He is also collaborating with filmmakers and scoring their short and indie feature films!


About the BMI Foundation

The BMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 to encourage the creation, performance, and study of American music. The Foundation’s programs include competitive scholarships for songwriters and composers, operating grants for nonprofit arts presenters, and support for innovative music education initiatives in schools and communities across the country. For more information about the work of the Foundation, please visit our website at For exclusive news and content, follow @bmifoundation on Twitter and  Instagram, and like BMI Foundation on Facebook.

Media Contact

BMI Foundation - Susan Bywaters - 212-220-3175 -