Regina Harris Baiocchi

Regina Harris Baiocchi is a poet, author, and composer whose diverse array of Spiritual, Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Hip-Hop, and Classical music have been performed by internationally-acclaimed artists and ensembles including the US Army Band and the Detroit and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. Baiocchi additionally founded Haiku Festival to celebrate children and promote literacy, and currently teaches Music Appreciation, African American Literature, and English composition at the East-West University of Chicago.

Photo: Regina Harris Baiocchi, Official Website

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Composer, and author, Regina Harris Baiocchi is a compassionate creative, who demonstrates warmth, honesty, and intellect through her artistry. Her talents are multi-faceted as she has mastered compositions for piano, clarinet, voice, drums, and several other instruments, while additionally demonstrating skill with text in her novels, poems, and short stories. Born on July 16, 1956, in Chicago, Illinois, Baiocchi has been greatly inspired by her artistic parents Elgie Haarris Jr., and Lanzie Mozelle Belmont Harris. Baiocchi has demonstrated appreciation for all of her mentors throughout her life – including Jazz composer Hale Smith, and trumpet player Professor William Butler Fielder. With such consistent encouragement throughout her life beginning at an early age, Baiocchi began formal music studies at the age of nine and began training as a composer when she enrolled at Roosevelt University’s Chicago Music College in 1975. She married her husband Gregory Baiocchi on July 12 of the same year, after graduating from high school just a year earlier. 

Baiocchi initially struggled in college, as she was the only African-American student and the only female in the composition and theory department. Her education additionally hindered her encouragement for compositions in pop music, jazz, blues, and gospel as her teachers promoted learning to write only classical music. Despite these struggles, Baiocchi spent a year of continued studies in the Roosevelt graduate program, where she composer her first published work – Two Piano Etudes. After graduating, Baiocchi spent time teaching theory, as well as mathematics and social studies for a time. During this period, she continued to work on her compositions of all mediums, publishing two of her poems, “Teeter Totter” and “Ghetto Child” in the Chicago Tribune, earning her a Poets & Patrons Award for Poetry. In 1984 she enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Design where she studied visual and project design, and in 1989 she began working in public relations, explaining in a personal reflection essay “because there are no jobs in music”. This new position allowed her to spend more time composing music and gaining experience with methods to promote her work. Baiocchi completed her master of music at De Paul University in 1995, where she began her compositional study with Hale Smith who appreciated jazz and classical music equally.

In 1996, Baiocchi appeared as a guest lecturer and composer at Indiana and Northwestern University, where she completed two important dramatic works Dreamhoppers and Gbeldahoven: No One’s Child. Baiocchi’s promise has earned her funding from the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Arts Program, and many other grants and awards. Her supported work has since been performed by the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2000, Baiocchi has taught Music Appreciation, African American Literature, and English composition at East-West University of Chicago. She continues to produce all kinds of work from creative articles to hip-hop tracks. With several career changes and developing expertise in nearly every artistic realm, Baiocchi has proven to be a naturally talented and motivated creative. Baiocchi proves that you can do everything you put your mind to, but not all at once. 

– Molly Schwall

This profile was created in 2021as part of The Savvy Singer, an EXCEL Lab course at the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and a collaboration with the Hampsong Foundation via the Classic Song Research Initiative.

Regina Harris Baiocchi (The HistoryMakers A2000.002), interviewed by Julieanna L. Richardson, May 31, 2000, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Sessions 1-5, Regina Baiocchi’s favorites 

The most reliable primary source. This video interview with Baiocchi allows the viewer to trace nearly every aspect of her life through cultural heritage, song, and even her favorite foods. This video incorporates questions about her childhood memories of learning black history in grammar school to an in-depth recount of the composer’s musical and literary influences, fully recounting her entire history first-hand. In addition to the video, the website archive additionally includes photos from Baiocchi’s life, as well as a map of locations in the United States which trace where her stories take place.

Baiocchi, Regina Harris. “Composer and Author”. 

Baiocchi’s personal website includes a detailed autobiography, as well as access to recordings of her work, photos, news, her mentors, and links to purchase her music and other written work. The website additionally highlights quotes from other established artists and critics as well as information to contact the composer, and where to find more information such as articles about the composer. 

​​Brown, Rae Linda. “Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American Women.” American Music, vol. 16, no. 1, spring 1998, pp. 116+. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 22 Sept. 2021.

This analysis of Kaleidoscope, a collection of pieces by African-American female composers dissects a bit about each piece included. The CD features Baiocchi’s serial Etude no. 2, which is compared with Rachel Eubank’s atonal pieces. Apart from mentioning their inclusion on the CD, there is not much information about the pieces or composer in this biography. 

“Regina Harris Baiocchi.” Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 41, Gale, 2004. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 22 Sept. 2021.

This write-up was found in the publication “Who’s Who Among African Americans” on the Gale advanced search through the UM Library database. The detailed biography of the composer includes minutiae from her early life and training, public relations, awards, as well as a complete list of her works, and further readings on the composer. This was the most informative source apart from her personal website.

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