The Evolution of African American Music

A few weeks ago, my director planned for our cast of 12 women to attend a community sing at Central Baptist Church featuring Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell. I come from a Catholic family, but I wouldn’t consider myself a very religious person and I had never heard of a community sing before. As I was walking into the church I did not know what to expect. Was it going to be an intimate concert with just Barnwell performing, a worship service with a guest appearance, or a sing along? It turned out to be a group sing involving all attendees. I had chills the entire time listening to voices of all sizes, colors and background coming together to form one voice.

We learned about the different spiritual chants and folks that are the root of African American music and how their culture and music evolved over time. It correlates a lot with how the arts began within the Church. Layering harmonies one after the other created more than just a choir of singers but a performance of artists. All of the songs that we learned were directed towards God and brought members of the Church and community significantly closer to one another through the art of music.  I would most definitely recommend this event to others, especially those interested in music, singing and the African American culture.

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