Jeri Lynne Johnson, conductor and founder of Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra.

Jeri Lynne Johnson is “one of the few black women conductors leading the nation’s 1,600 orchestras,” reports DeMarco Morgan in a segment on Thursday’s (3/23) ABC News. “A 2016 study from the League of American Orchestras estimates only 20% of them are conducted by women. We recently caught up with maestro Jeri Lynne Johnson before a performance of her Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra [in] Philadelphia. Johnson: At four, I started piano lessons and then some family friends took me to my first orchestra concert. I very clearly remember falling in love with the music…. The earliest obstacles were really … because I was a Black woman. I was told that … I did not look like what the audience would expect the maestro to look like and that was very painful. But also, very eye-opening. It made me realize that … part of my job would be to maybe change that narrative around what a leader looks like not just on the podium but in life in general and that’s when I started Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra…. At Black Pearl … it is different instruments, different viewpoints, different ethnicities … in one place creating beautiful music. That’s what I want people to take away, that this is America.’ ”