We, Too, Sing America

African American Voices of Song

We, Too, Sing America is a docu-series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season.  This series explores 13 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. These episodes are intended to give you an introduction to each artist and help give you the tools necessary to continue your own research. 

"During our first season, we produced a beautiful recital made up of art songs and spirituals by African American composers. During the programming and planning of this concert, I started to become aware of how many incredible composers have been historically left out of the conversation about American composers and the enormous gap that was left in my own training. My hope is that this series will serve as a jumping off point for musicians across the country that are looking to expand their knowledge of American art song repertoire to include all American composers."

Michael Lewis, Artistic Director of ACP

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Docu-Series e-Course 

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Learn more about the life and work of Margaret Bonds, Robert Owens, Harry T. Burleigh and  13 other influential African American artists. Begin your journey to discovery through our We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song course. This online course explores the lasting impact African American artists have had in music.

This free educational series is designed to support your learning experience of American art song and it is delivered directly to your inbox! We cannot wait to show you what is in store.

 

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We, Too, Sing America | Episode 1: Margaret Bonds

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 1: Margaret Bonds

Born in Chicago, IL in 1913, Margaret Bonds was a composer, pianist, and teacher. Her music ranges from classical to popular, and she has often incorporated jazz influences into her work. Bonds made history when she became the first African American to perform as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Her life has been punctuated by close friendships with such notable individuals as Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, and renowned composer Florence Price. We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Susheel Bibbs, soprano, scholar, and filmmaker Dr. Christine Jobson, soprano, and author Dr. Louise Toppin, soprano, and scholar Taylor-Alexis DuPont, mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano Dr. Marquese Carter, tenor, Murray State University, and President of The International Florence Price Festival Dr. Darryl Taylor, countertenor, and founder of African American Art Song Alliance Dr. Tsitsi Ella Jaji, poet, scholar, Duke University Meroë Khalia Adeeb, soprano Resources for further research: Margaret Bonds Song Anthology | https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/products/Rediscovering-Margaret-Bonds-Art-Songs-Spirituals-Musical-Theater-and-Popular-Songs-CVR5268-401530.html African American Art Song Alliance | https://artsongalliance.org/ Afrocentric Voices | https://afrovoices.com/margaret-bonds-biography/ African Diaspora Project | https://africandiasporamusicproject.org/margaret_bonds Classical Vocal Reprints | https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/ Videmus | https://videmus.org/index.php?fwa=aboutus Intro (00:00) Early Life and Training (0:43) Three Dream Portraits (5:07) Langston Hughes and Other Friends (13:30) Popular Music (20:37) He's Got the Whole World in His Hand (22:30) The Negro Speaks of Rivers (27:28) Ending Credits (33:12)
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 2: Adolphus Hailstork

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 2: Adolphus Hailstork

Composer Dr. Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork, was born on April 17th, 1941 in Rochester, New York. He is lauded as a brilliant and prolific composer who truly understands how to write for the voice. Much of his vocal works have been in response to important events and social causes taking place the United States, such as his Opera “Rise for Freedom” about the freeing of enslaved peoples through the Underground Railroad, and “Set Me on a Rock” about Hurricane Katrina for chorus and orchestra, as well as his work “A Knee on the Neck,” Hailstork’s tribute to George Floyd for chorus and orchestra. His rich and intricate writing, coupled with the powerful text and topics he chooses to explore makes him a favorite among professional musicians. We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano Dr. Minnita Daniel-Cox, soprano and creator of the Dunbar Music Archive Dr. Adolphus Hailstork, composer Dr. Darryl Taylor, countertenor and founder of African American Art Song Alliance Dr. Louise Toppin, soprano and scholar Resources for further research: Adolphus Hailstork's Website: https://www.adolphushailstork.com/ African American Art Song Alliance: https://www.artsongalliance.org/composers/adolphus-hailstork Vocal Scores: https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/products/Art-Songs-with-Sacred-Texts-for-High-Voice-by-Adolphus-Hailstork-401901.html https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/products/Chamber-Music-Songs-for-Soprano-and-Strings-by-Adolphus-Hailstork-401899.html https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/products/Songs-for-Soprano-and-Harp-by-Adolphus-Hailstork-401898.html Chapters: Intro (0:00) Impressions of Adolphus Hailstork (0:43) Early Life and Education (2:52) Yet Do I Marvel? (8:57) Who is Sylvia? (18:09) On Vocal Writing and Teaching Vocal Writing (21:28) Anthologies of Works by Hailstork for High Voice (24:27) How Hailstork's Writing has Developed Over the Years (27:30) Current Projects 2020-2021 (29:12) My Heart to Thy Heart (33:17) Ending Credits (36:03) EXTRA: Shostakovich Story (36:58)
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 3: Harry T. Burleigh

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 3: Harry T. Burleigh

Born in Erie, PA in 1866, Henry Thacker Burleigh, often referred to as Harry T. Burleigh, played a significant role in the development of American art song, having composed over two hundred works in the genre. He was the first African-American composer acclaimed for his concert songs as well as for his adaptations of African-American spirituals. In addition, Burleigh was an accomplished baritone, a meticulous editor, and a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. CORRECTION OFFERED BY JEAN SNYDER: "Burleigh did not hear Italian tenor Italo Campanini at Elizabeth Russell's home--he hid in the balcony of the Park Opera House all afternoon to hear the evening performance--a very risky thing to do!" Guest speakers include: Meroë Khalia Adeeb, soprano Susheel Bibbs, soprano, scholar, and filmmaker Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano Dr. Marquese Carter, tenor and President of The International Florence Price Festival, and Assistant Professor of Music at Murray State University Patrick Dailey, countertenor and Founding Director of the Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival and Big Blue Opera Initiatives at Tennessee State University Taylor-Alexis DuPont, mezzo-soprano Dr. Tsitsi Ella Jaji, poet, scholar, Duke University Sidney Outlaw, baritone Dr. Christine Jobson, soprano and author of Florence Price: An Analysis of Select Art Songs with Text by Female Poets Randye Jones, soprano, spiritual scholar, and author of “So You Want to Sing Spirituals” Dr. Shawn Okpebholo, composer Elliott Paige, tenor Dr. Darryl Taylor, countertenor and founder of African American Art Song Alliance Dr. Louise Toppin, soprano and scholar Resources for further research: African American Art Song Alliance: https://www.artsongalliance.org/composers/harry-t-burleigh Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance (Biography): https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/45dsx4pf9780252039942.html Chapters: Intro (0:00) Early Childhood (0:42) More than a Spiritual Arranger (1:43) Education and Training (3:42) Art Songs (6:42) Songs of Laurence Hope (11:34) Other Songs (12:57) Lovely, Dark, and Lonely One (14:10) Negro Spirituals (16:09) Deep River (20:24) Pioneering the Concert Spiritual for Solo Voice (22:26) I've Been in the Storm (31:53) Ending Credits (34:48)
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 4: Robert Owens

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 4: Robert Owens

Robert Lee Owens III was born on September 19, 1925 in Denison, Texas. After serving in the army he traveled to Paris where he enrolled at the Ecole Normale de Musique to study with Jules Gentil and Alfred Cortot. At the age of 25, Owens received his Diplome de Perfection for piano and two years later debuted as a concert pianist in Copenhagen, Denmark - where he continued his studies at the Vienna Academy of Music with Grete Hinterhofer. By 1957, Owens had given many concerts throughout Denmark and Austria. In addition to his musical career, Owens established himself as an actor while in Germany. For years he cultivated his skills as a thespian while composing and accompanying singers, many of whom performed his works. Owens maintained residence in Germany until his death in 2017. We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Susheel Bibbs, soprano, scholar, and filmmaker Dr. Jamie Reimer, soprano and scholar Dr. Darryl Taylor, countertenor, and founder of African American Art Song Alliance Dr. Louise Toppin, soprano, and scholar Resources for further research: African American Art Song Alliance: https://artsongalliance.org/ African Diaspora Music Project: https://africandiasporamusicproject.org/robert_owens Classical Vocal Reprints: https://www.classicalvocalrep.com/ 0:00 Intro 0:43 Early Life 03:09 Studies in Paris 04:59 Langston Hughes 06:32 Living in Germany 08:51 Heart on the Wall 11:30 Text Setting 15:05 Musical Influences 19:20 Vocal Works 20:55 "Your face is set against a fervent sky" 24:31 "The Mouse and the Camel" 25:25 "Culture! Culture!" 26:36 Darryl Taylor in conversation with Robert Owens 28:33 "Reve pour l'hiver" 32:25 End Credits
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 5: Paul Laurence Dunbar

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 5: Paul Laurence Dunbar

Born in Dayton, OH on June 27th, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was a poet, novelist, and playwright. Dunbar was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition. As a teenager, he published and edited a The Dayton Tattler newspaper made for West Dayton’s African American community. Dunbar reached a wide audience in his adult years, speaking at numerous conventions, and gaining recognition for his work in such prominent magazines as Harper’s Weekly. Today, Dunbar is acknowledged for being crucial in establishing a voice influential to generations of poets, including those responsible for the blossoming of the Harlem Renaissance. We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Dr. Minnita Daniel-Cox, soprano and creator of the Dunbar Music Archive Dr. Tsitsi Ella Jaji, poet, scholar, Duke University Resources for further research: Dunbar Music Archive: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/dunbar/ Research Guides: https://guides.loc.gov/paul-laurence-dunbar/introduction
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 6: Dave Ragland

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 6: Dave Ragland

Dave Ragland, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a composer, vocalist, pianist, and conductor. His music is truly a product of his experience; his influences include his upbringing in the Black church, his exposure to jazz from a young age, his work with the Tennessee State Showstoppers, his exposure to Roland Carter, and his family. In 2020, Ragland composed “One Vote Won” - in honor of African American women's suffrage - for Nashville Opera in the first commission of the company’s history. Additionally, Ragland is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Inversion Vocal Ensemble, known to perform a wide range of genres from classical, to contemporary gospel, to jazz standards, and more. We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Dr. Marquese Carter, tenor, Murray State University, and President of The International Florence Price Festival Shawn Okpebholo, composer Resources for further research: African American Art Song Alliance: https://artsongalliance.org/ Dave Ragland's Website: http://www.daveragland.com/ Inversion Vocal Ensemble: http://www.inversionsings.com/
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 7: H. Leslie Adams

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 7: H. Leslie Adams

Harrison Leslie Adams, better known as H. Leslie Adams, is a composer and pianist, best known for his beautiful and musically complex art songs. He was born in Cleveland, OH in 1932. Adams shows ease in writing for orchestra, chamber ensemble, organ, piano, and chorus, while his treatment of art song is particularly praiseworthy. Important cycles include Nightsongs, with six texts by African-American poets, and The Wider View. Adams is a composer who shows sensitivity for the expressive powers of the vocal instrument. He is listed in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., International Who’s Who in Music and Musicians; Who’s Who in American Music Classical, and Who’s Who in America. Adams is winner of the “Life Achievement Award” of the Cleveland Arts Prize; “For his career as musician and composer” We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Dr. Darryl Taylor, countertenor and founder of African American Art Song Alliance Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano Patrice P. Eaton, mezzo-soprano Patrick Dailey, countertenor and Founding Director of the Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival and Big Blue Opera Initiatives at Tennessee State University Elliott Paige, tenor H. Leslie Adams, composer Resources for further research: American Composers Alliance: https://composers.com/composers/h-leslie-adams African American Art Song Alliance https://artsongalliance.org/ H. Leslie Adams Website https://www.hleslieadams.com/ Nightsongs: 1. Prayer Composer: H. Leslie Adams Lyrics: Langston Hughes For You there is No Song - from Five Millay Songs Lyrics: Edna St. Vincent Millay Courtesy of American Composers Edition (BMI)
We, Too, Sing America | Episode 8: Jacqueline Hairston

We, Too, Sing America | Episode 8: Jacqueline Hairston

Pianist, composer, and vocal coach Dr. Jacqueline Hairston was born in 1932 Charlotte, North Carolina. Hairston is a prolific composer who has mastered various genres from spiritual arrangements to contemporary art song. Her works have been performed by the San Francisco Women's Philharmonic, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, as well as Metropolitan Opera stars Grace Bumbry, Kathleen Battle, Denyce Graves, and many others worldwide. Hairston’s work and contributions so far have been notable and inspired, enough so to earn - among others - two Living Legend Awards and the Howard Thurman Award. We, Too, Sing America: African American Voices of Song, is a virtual series created by Aural Compass Projects during their 2020-2021 season. This project is a resource for musicians and music lovers interested in learning through its exploration of 16 African American composers and poets who have contributed to the art song genre. Featuring interviews with modern-day leading performers and scholars of spirituals and African American art song, each episode focuses on a specific composer or poet’s life, influence, and their important works. These episodes are intended to provide an introduction and the tools necessary to continue your own research on each artist. Guest speakers include: Susheel Bibbs, soprano, scholar, and filmmaker Dr. Christine Jobson, soprano, and author Dr. Louise Toppin, soprano, and scholar Dr. Darryl Taylor, countertenor, and