Since 1983, the CBMR has grown from a single office for the founder to a permanent suite of offices occupying nearly 8,000 square feet and a full-time staff of ten plus several part-time employees and work-study students.
The CBMR Library and Archives is devoted to collecting materials about black music the world over. It was established in 1990 and opened to the public in 1992; it currently holds more than 5,400 cataloged books and dissertations, 11,000 sound recordings in all formats, 4,500 scores and pieces of sheet music, and 72 archival collections including personal papers or organizational records that contain research materials, published and unpublished music scores, manuscripts and typescripts, audio-visual recordings, paper-based and photographic materials, ephemera, publications, and oral-history interviews. The CBMR Library and Archives also holds several ethnographic collections, including three from documentary filmmakers and two containing musical bows (instruments).
To date, the Center's publications list includes more than 50 issues of Black Music Research Journal, 5 issues of Lenox Avenue: A Journal of Interarts Inquiry, 5 issues of CBMR Monographs, 46 issues of CBMR Digest, 6 issues of Kalinda! newsletter, and 4 issues of Stop-Time! newsletter. During 1999, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers released the Center's International Dictionary of Black Composers. The Center also co-publishes with the University of California Press the Music of the African Diaspora book series.
Since 1987, the CBMR has developed and presented performances of four critically acclaimed professional ensembles, including the Black Music Repertory Ensemble, Ensemble Kalinda Chicago, Ensemble Stop-Time, and, currently, the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble. The ensembles present lecture-demonstrations and performances in Chicago and on tour and cover the widest possible range of black music styles, genres, provenances, and time periods.
The Center organizes National and International Conferences on Black Music Research, which have been held in Chicago, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, New York, New Orleans, and Trinidad and Tobago. Some conferences have been held jointly with other organizations, such as the American Musicological Society, The College Music Society, the Society for American Music, and the Society for Ethnomusicology, among others.
Since 1995, the CBMR has hosted eighteen Rockefeller Resident Fellows and is the only organization ever to have won three four-year cycles of this funding. The Center also awards small grants in honor of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson to support researcher travel to come to the Center to use the collection.
The Center also develops special research and performance projects, such as Project Kalinda, Project Stop-Time, the unique Interarts Inquiry Initiative and Black Music and Linguistics Initiative, and has hosted dozens of colloquia, forums, and seminars.