For the past decade, Associate Professor of Music Dr. Valerie Francis has brought the past back to life in “A Celebration of the Negro Spiritual.” The concert series has brought a collaboration of solo vocalists from across the U.S. Students from across the state, alumni and guest artists have all contributed to this experience.
As we pay homage to the songs of our African-American ancestors, we also seek to preserve the solo Negro Spiritual vocal repertoire. Although we have no exact recording of how our ancestors would have sung a spiritual, we study the standard performance practices. This allows the authenticity of the music to remain valid. Understanding and respecting the dialect of a spiritual is important, as well. Although it is broken English, it was the culture of that period because slaves were not allowed to learn how to read or speak proper English.
We also must have a spiritual connection to the music in which we perform. A spiritual meant a lot to the slaves. So it is up to the performer to decipher the true meaning of the lyrics and become one with the song. If there is no emotional connection, then we are just singing music we learned for a concert.
I hope to see you there at 7 p.m. this Friday as we connect with the past to bring you this emotional experience.
Written by Darius Scott, Junior-Vocal Music Education Major