Helga Davis


Harlem native Helga Davis is a multifaceted, critically-acclaimed artist, curator and cultural convener widely respected for her expansive practice. Helga was a principal performer in the 25th anniversary revival of  Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's Einstein On The Beach; in Robert Wilson and Berniece Johnson Reagon’s The Temptation of St. Anthony; Toshi Reagon’s Parable of the Sower; and in Courtney Bryan’s Yet Unheard, among many others. Her eponymously named New York Public Radio podcast, Helga, now in its sixth season, unfolds as a long-form conversation wherein she engages artists of all disciplines to explore current cultural issues with rare candor. As a curator, she has made performances at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and recently completed a three-year position as the Visiting Curator for the Performing Arts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  

In 2019, she was a finalist for the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and was awarded the Greenfield Prize in Composition. Between 2019-2022, she was a Creative Futures Fellow at UNC, Chapel Hill, a creative residency funded by the Mellon Foundation. She’s an inaugural advisor to the Brown University Arts Institute, working with the leadership team on curatorial and programming initiatives. She is a Teaching Artist/Mentor for The Park Avenue Armory Youth Corps. In Spring 2023, she  was commissioned by the Onassis Foundation to write a work for children’s choir and orchestra, featuring herself as soloist and conductor.  She serves on the Board of the Jerome Foundation.


Helga Davis appears in the following:

Video artist Arthur Jafa on actualizing Black potential, part 2

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Video artist and cinematographer Arthur Jafa discusses "Black potential" and the origins of "Love is the Message."


Video artist Arthur Jafa on actualizing Black potential, part 1

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Arthur Jafa, decorated video artist and cinematographer, talks "Black potential" and the passing of the critic and musician Greg Tate.


Writer Macarena Gómez-Barris on finding beauty in ambiguity

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Macarena Goméz-Barris, Chair of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, discusses finding beauty in the most ambiguous of places.


Silhouettist Kara Walker on early fame and symbols of Black servitude

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Kara Walker, silhouettist and former MacArthur genius, discusses navigating her own inner conflicts and achieving great acclaim through making use of symbols of Black servitude. 


Smithsonian director Kevin Young on the power of unexpected transformations

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Kevin Young, poetry editor for The New Yorker and director of Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, talks about the power of unexpected transformations.


Sociologist Tricia Rose on hip-hop as a global profit powerhouse

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Tricia Rose, Chancellor's Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, discusses the beauty of chaos, and how essential it is to build safe communities of accountability.


Visual artist Carrie Mae Weems on grace and inclusion

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Carrie Mae Weems, one of today’s most influential contemporary artists, discusses advancing the field by including Black artists and what "grace" means to her and her mother.


Choreographer Bill T. Jones on the violence within seduction

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Legendary dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones talks about growing up a "Black Yankee" in the 1950s through the 1960s and the adjacency of violence to the power of seduction.


Jazz vocalist Somi on finding your voice

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Somi, GRAMMY-nominated jazz singer, discusses what happens when a teacher steals your joy, connecting to her ancestors, and how she is still finding her voice. 


Musician Bartees Strange on indie music’s overlooked audiences

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Producer and singer-songwriter Bartees Strange considers what it means to write music for the people who are not seen, heard, or cared about.


Painter Glenn Ligon on the value of difference

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Contemporary American artist Glenn Ligon discusses what it means to have a parent who fiercely supports you and the essential lesson that there's value in the things you do differently. 


Poet Claudia Rankine on power and democracy

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Claudia Rankine, one of the most celebrated writers of our time, talks about who holds the power in our democracy and what it means to earn a mother's understanding of your work.  


Playwright Michael R. Jackson on risk and fearlessness

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Michael R. Jackson, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical A Strange Loop, talks about artistic fearlessness and how we use identities to foster understanding.


Helga Season 5 Trailer

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Conversations with extraordinary people.


Lincoln Center's Juneteenth Celebration

Friday, June 18, 2021

Carl Hancock Rux and Helga Davis join us to discuss 'I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me: A Juneteenth Celebration' at Lincoln Center.


A Little Night Music With Jenny Lin and Dover String Quartet

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Pianist Jenny Lin performs works by Silvestrov, Mozart, and Stravinsky. We also hear the Dover String Quartet with highlights from the ensemble’s performance in WQXR’s Greene Space.   


A Little Night Music With Juho Pohjonen, Davóne Tines, and the Junction Trio

Friday, August 14, 2020

This program features a 2011 A Little Night Music performance of Haydn and Mozart by pianist Juho Pohjonen and highlights from the opera The Black Clown, with bass-baritone Davóne Tines.


A Little Night Music With Inon Barnatan

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

This A Little Night Music features Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan’s 2016 Mostly Mozart debut, for which he performed a range of works from the 18th to the 21st centuries.


A Little Night Music With Emanuel Ax, Anna Polonsky, and Orion Weiss

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

This late night presentation features three pianists — Emanuel Ax, Anna Polonsky, and Orion Weiss — from A Little Night Music performance in 2015 at the Kaplan Penthouse.


A Little Night Music With Pianist Paul Lewis

Monday, August 10, 2020

This Mostly Mozart Festival late night concert features celebrated pianist Paul Lewis performing works of Schubert and Brahms, recorded in 2016 at the Kaplan Penthouse.