Nicole M. Mitchell is an award-winning flutist, composer, bandleader, and educator, and the former first woman president of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Mitchell is best known for her work as a flutist; she developed a unique improvisational language that garnered her awards including “Top Flutist of the Year” by DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association (2010-2022). She emerged from Chicago’s innovative music scene in the late ‘90s, performing with Maia and Shanta Nurullah in Samana (the AACM's first all-woman ensemble) and as a member of David Boykin Expanse. Mitchell is the founder of the Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, Sonic Projections, and Ice Crystal.
As a composer, Mitchell creates works for contemporary ensembles of varied instrumentation and size, while incorporating improvisation and a wide aesthetic expression. She has been commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Stone, the French American Jazz Exchange, Chamber Music America (New Works), the Chicago Jazz Festival, International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Mitchell has performed with music luminaries including Craig Taborn, Roscoe Mitchell, Joelle Leandre, Anthony Braxton, Geri Allen, George Lewis, Mark Dresser, Steve Coleman, Anthony Davis, Myra Melford, Bill Dixon, Muhal Richard Abrams, Ed Wilkerson, Rob Mazurek, Billy Childs, and Hamid Drake. She is the recipient of the Herb Alpert Award (2011), the Chicago 3Arts Award (2011), the Doris Duke Artist Award (2012), and the United States Artist Award (2020). Mitchell is currently a professor of music at the University of Virginia.