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Through all the sorrow of the Sorrow Songs there breathes a hope—a faith in the ultimate justice of things. The minor cadences of despair change often to triumph and calm confidence. Sometimes it is faith in life, sometimes a faith in death, sometimes assurance of boundless justice in some fair world beyond. But whichever it is, the meaning is always clear: that sometime, somewhere, men will judge men by their souls and not by their skins.
~W.E.B. Dubois

An Immersive Workshop Experience

African American Spirituals contain some of the most powerful American poetry, and speak of a love for all mankind. They reflect joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, personal struggles and dreams. They have carried hidden messages about resistance and escape and continue to this day to testify to the resilience of the human spirit. In the words of James Weldon Johnson, they speak the “group wisdom” and express the “group philosophy of life.”

This workshop is an immersive, interactive exploration into the heart of these folk hymns of Praise, Protest, and Purpose.

Weaving together a tapestry of recorded music, historical documentation, photographs, archival film footage,and live performance, the facilitator will relate the rich history of this sacred music and its function in preserving history, educating generations, protesting injustice and healing the wounds of racism. Workshop participants will explore:

The History & Evolution of African American Sacred Music

Each participant will develop a working understanding of Spirituals, their evolution into Gospel Music, and track their influence on modern American popular music i.e. Jazz, Rock and Roll, R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop.

Ear Training Through Rote Singing

The beauty of rote teaching is that a choir can be taught an arrangement and perform it by memory in a very short time without sheet music and train their ear at the same time.Oftentimes during this process the participants realize how little they use there memories...mind and body...to retain information.

Movement and Rhythmic Expression

Movement has always been a dynamic and integral component of the African American choral experience. Through a vibrant and interactive format, the participant will gain an understanding of the nature and purpose of movement and rhythmic expression within the context of a gospel choir.

Vocal Training

In this module, the participants will explore their voices through a series of exercises designed to improve vocal freedom and diction, rhythm and tonality, and breath control.

Understanding Appropriate Concert Presence

During performance it is very important to communicate the message of the music and connecting with the listeners. In this module, the singers will be coached on stage presence and artistic presentation...and this all in preparation for a public concert!