The Negro Spiritual



Bay Area Support

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member, Shipwreck church; Light Devoy Edwin Harris, Mystic, University of Light; Cynthia Selmar; Helen Dilworth, vocal artist; Pastor Calvin Jones and Ms. Mary Booker, Providence Baptist Church, San Francisco; Pastors J. Alfred Smith Sr. and Junior, Allen Temple Baptist Church; Ms. Betty Gadling, Director, Music Department, Allen Temple Baptist Church; Pastor Amos Brown and Third Baptist Church, San Francisco; Bishop Donald E. Green, Pastor and Carl Fortier, Director, Music Department, San Francisco Christian Center; Rev. Michael Williams, Pastor, St. James Church, San Francisco; Members of Friends of Negro Spirituals, Pastor  James McCray, Jones Methodist Church; Aleece Carson, Director, Music Department, Jones Methodist; Essie Mormen; Thom Duvaul; The Moses Hogan Chorale, Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Pastor, Downs Memorial Church; Bill Bell, Director, Music Department, Downs;  Laura Fleming; Barbara Howard-Johnson, Directress, Celestial Choir, Taylor Memorial Church, Oakland; Ruth Vaughn, Kevan Peabody, Director, Music Department, Bethel Church; Pat Mills, Bethel Church; Joe Rudolph, manager, radio station,KPOO, 89.5., the Bay Area Assoc. of Black Social workers, and Ms. Napoleon.

The organization also thanks San Francisco Performances for granting it opportunities to be a supporter of the Moses Hogan Chorale’s final concert.

The Negro Spiritual Honored at Center Stage
by Sam Edwards

In an historic occasion, Negro Spirituals were honored in Oakland, California on April 11, 1999.  The Golden Gate Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., honored them in a program,“A Tribute to the Black Spiritual.” The salute to the irreplaceable music was presented at the Beth Eden Baptist Church.  It was a unique event, particularly in a time in which the 250-year-old genre of song is typically kept in the old folk’s home; perhaps along with the elderly who knows them best.  The local association not only brought the spiritual from behind the scene, but also saluted them at center stage.

 

Edward Irvine and Mary Napoleon, co-presidents of the Golden Gate Branch of musicians, opened the program, which consisted of musical performances by Bay Area church choirs and soloists.

The songs rendered took us back to the south in which the spiritual was a regular feature of church services.  The Beth Eden Baptist church choir sang “Rockin’ in Jerusalem” along with the seldom heard song, “No More Auction Block.”  Teri Simmons accompanying, the McGee Avenue Baptist Church ensemble sang “Just Come From the Fountain” and “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.”

There were the soloists.  Soprano Carol Gibson offered Hall Johnson’s arrangement of “I’ve Been ‘Buked”. Soprano Arnetta Jackson-Bartlow did “Just Come From the Fountain,” which was also arranged by Hall Johnson; the African-American arranger and composer who used to want spirituals to be sang the way that he had heard the ex-slaves sing them in congregations “Give Me Jesus” was sung by soprano Frances Carson who was accompanied on the piano by Mr. Irvine. Baritone Neva Jackson did Calvin Taylor’s arrangement of “Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child.” The singer, Emma D. Williams, also accompanied on piano by Mr. Irvine, kept the old time religion flavor in William Levi Dawson’s arrangement of “Talk About a Child that Do Love Jesus.” Louisiana born mezzo-soprano, Shirley Graves gave us Hall Johnson’s rendition of “Witness” and the very striking song, “Lord, How Come Me Here,” both selections being from her new CD, Out of the Shell.

The celebration of the Black Spiritual was a unique and special one.It was opened and closed with the audience singing the Negro National Anthem, “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”

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