Spirituals in China

Ming. “The Spirituals of Wuyang District.” Bridge: Church Life in China Today, no. 28 (1988): 11–14.

Explains how Christians of the enjoy singing spirituals, but many of the transcriptions are inaccurate. Includes corrected texts for eight spirituals, including “Ten Questions and Answers,” “Noah’s Ark,” “Lord Jesus Preaches,” “True and False Shop,” “The World Is Like Two Boats,” “Live by the Lord,” “Ten Fresh Flowers,” and “When Granny Believes.”

Black Tradition of Spiritual Wrestling

Becker, William H. “The Black Tradition of Spiritual Wrestling.” Journal of Religious Thought 51, no. 2 (1994): 29–46.

Becker outlines five basic themes he sees in the writings of African Americans, such as Richard Allen, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr. Malcom X, and Alice Walker: suffering, spiritual striving, dark spiritual beauty, spiritual challenge, and a belief that African American spiritual struggle has to do with the very soul of America. Becker identifies these themes in spirituals as well.

Solo Trumpet Repertoire by African American Composers

Wilson, Orrin. “The Contributions of Twentieth Century African American Composers to the Solo Trumpet Repertoire: A Discussion and Analysis of Selected Works by Ulysses S. Kay, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Regina Harris Baiocchi, and Charles Lloyd, Jr.” DMA diss., University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2011.

While there has been a constant growth in the academic study of African American composers who have written concert and recital music, their contributions to the solo trumpet repertoire has received far less attention. Many African American composers’ works stretch far beyond the realm of spirituals, folk songs, choral works, jazz, and popular music. The composers covered here are noteworthy because they represent just a few of the various African American musicians who have composed works for the solo trumpet. Each composer’s work represents cultural and historical trends intended to counter negative perceptions of African American culture. These composers also represent the stylistic components that are associated with recognizable elements of African American music within the African American nationalistic vernacular, including call and response, the use of spirituals, and jazz influences. Focuses on the following works: Ulysses Simpson Kay, Tromba for Trumpet and Piano; Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork, Sonata for Trumpet and Piano; Regina Harris Baiocchi, Miles Per Hour for Unaccompanied Trumpet; and Charles Lloyds Jr., The Crucifixion for Trumpet and Piano. (Author’s abstract, abridged and revised)

Darin Atwater Puts a New Spin on Preserving Spirituals

Peoples, Betsy. “Spreading the Gospel: Darin Atwater Puts a New Spin on Preserving Generations of Negro Spirituals.” Emerge 11, no. 4 (2000): 76–78, 80, 82.

Profiles composer and pianist Darin Atwater and tells of his campaign to preserve African American spirituals by reintroducing them to a “new generation of people.” Suggests that Atwater has taken a “contemporary approach to preserving [the] songs,” which includes improvisation, rhythmic complexity, and call and response. Atwater has arranged and composed for such musicians as Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, and Kathleen Battle. Includes several photographs of the musician. (Publisher’s abstract, revised)

Roxane Beth Johnson’s Black Crow Dress

Johnson, Roxane Beth. Black Crow Dress. Farmington, ME: Alice James Books, 2013.

A collection of lyrically intense persona poems about the emancipation of slaves in their myriad voices as well as a meditation on the self. The collection’s imagery takes the reader from churchyard to church, chanting the old spirituals, as Johnson seeks to embody the spirits of the dead. (Publisher’s abstract, abridged)

Music/Worship Aids for Martin Luther King, Jr, Birthday

Smith, William Farley. “Cries of Freedom in Afro-American Spirituals:  and Black History Month Recognition.” Drew Gateway 61 (1991): 60–70.

Presents an overview of slaves during antebellum America. The African American leaders in the churches encouraged slaves to rise and strike for freedom. One particular pastor was Henry Highland Garnet, an advocate of militant abolitionism from Buffalo, New York. Supports Garnet’s work and argues that it is theologically sound, as are 98 percent of the slave songs. With that in mind, Smith outlines a potential order of worship for a Martin Luther King Jr. birthday and African American History Month recognition. Includes a brief bibliography of collections, writings, and commentaries on slave songs.

Africanisms Retained in the Spiritual Tradition

african-mask-borderMaultsby, Portia K. “Africanisms Retained in the Spiritual Tradition.” In International Musicological Society, Report of the Twelfth Congress, Berkeley 1977, edited by Daniel Heartz and Bonnie C. Wade, 75–82. Kassel: Barenreiter, 1981.

During the colonial and antebellum periods (1619–1861), Southern slaves created several cultural forms that preserved elements of their African past. The form of religious music that emerged from the culture established by slaves became known as spirituals. The degree to which West African musical traditions and cultural practices influenced the evolution of African American spirituals varied and was dependent on the social structures that determined the slaves’ daily existence. This discussion surveys the evolution of African American spirituals within the context of social environments and through an analysis of proposed theories regarding their origin. (Author’s abstract, slightly revised)

Classification of the Vocal Works of Harry T. Burleigh

Allison, Roland Lewis. “maud_cuney_hare-harry_t_burleigh_328 (1866–1949) and Some Suggestions for Their Use in Teaching Diction in Singing.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 1966.

A historical study of Harry Thacker Burleigh and his works, including a graded analysis of his solo vocal works. Outlines vocal teaching concepts and how they might be used with these works. Includes an appendix of Burleigh’s vocal works from 1898 to 1949, listing title, source or author of text, and publisher. Contains an extensive bibliography and music examples.

The Orphan Girls (1856) by James S. Peacocke and his use of spirituals

orphan-girlAnderson, Hilton. “Some Negro Slave Songs from an 1856 Novel.” Mississippi Folklore Register 8, no. 3 (1974): 221–26.

The popular novel The Orphan Girls (1856), by James S. Peacocke, is the story of a Louisiana plantation owner’s two daughters who are almost sold at a slave auction before being rescued at the last minute. The novel contains many references to spirituals, and since the novel predates many collections of spirituals, it is an important source for spirituals in the Mississippi and Louisiana area. Anderson has attempted to locate other versions of the songs wherever possible.

Mary Lou Williams “First Lady of the Jazz Keyboard”

Handy, D. Antoinette, and Black Perspective inmary_lou_williams_gottlieb_09231_-_crop Music 8, no. 2 (1980): 195–214.

Interviews with Mary Lou Williams from December 4, 1979, through May 29, 1980. Mentions Williams’s early childhood and exposure to spirituals through her mother. Provides extensive details about her career as a performer and teacher. Defines the term “jazz” and the influence spirituals have had on the definition. Covers Williams’s philosophy on the “Americanism” of music. Includes references about musical influences and close associates, and a discussion of outstanding African American women who performed as instrumentalists in jazz bands. (Author’s abstract, revised)