On March 19 and 20, The Tennessee State University Music Department and Big Blue Opera Initiatives will hold the annual Harry T. Spirituals Festival.
Presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music and Burleigh Legacy Alliance of Erie PA, the upcoming festival marks the return of in-person events however, virtual options will be maintained.
Under the theme Celebrating and Preserving the African American Soundscape, this year’s programming offers attendees an array of lectures, choral clinics, a vocal masterclass, and a Sunday afternoon concert to benefit the Harry T. Burleigh Fund for Vocal Studies.
The concert will also present the Burleigh Civic Champion Award to revered music educators Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Dismuke and the Burleigh Arts Trailblazer Award posthumously to legendary music director of Bobby Jones Gospel and noted pianist and arranger Maestro Derrick Lee.
Here’s an overview below:
Saturday, March 19th
8:00am to 5:30pm- Workshops and Clinics
Clinicians, Lecturers, and Presenters:
Lori C. Hicks, DMA, soprano
Vocal Coach, Composer, Educator, and Administrator, Kentucky State University
Brandon Waddles, Ph.D.
Conductor, Composer, Music Director, and Professor, Wayne State University
Dr. Jean Snyder, Burleigh Biographer and Author, Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance
Dr. Louise Toppin, soprano
Director, Videmus Foundation and Records
and Professor, University of Michigan
Archivist, Griot, Singer, and Executive Director, Detroit Sound Conservancy
Sunday, March 30th
3:00pm- Pre-Concert Talk hosted by the National Museum of African American Music
4:00pm- Scholarship Concert
Westwood Baptist Church, University Center
2510 Albion Street
Nashville, TN 37221
Rev. Barton Elliott Harris, Pastor
Honoring Artistry Rooted in the Black Church and the 50th Anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace Album featuring
Burleigh Festival Gala Artist
Dr. Lori C. Hicks, soprano and composer
Kentucky State University
Burleigh Festival Chorus Conductor
Dr. Brandon Waddles, conductor and composer
Wayne State University
Amazing Grace 50 Tribute Artists
The Lane College Concert Choir
The Tennessee State University Meistersingers
The New Direction Gospel Choir of Tennessee State University
The W. Crimm Singers (aka Wakanda Chorale) and up and coming HBCU vocalists!
Available to stream on Facebook/YouTube Live
Free Admission, Donations Accepted in Support of the Harry T. Burleigh Fund for Vocal Studies at Tennessee State University
First held in November 2016, the Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival was established through the vision of acclaimed opera singer and Tennessee State voice professor Patrick Dailey. The initial aim was to offer more substantial performance and training opportunities to vocal students at TSU and other HBCUs while recognizing the 150th birthday of pioneering African American composer and arranger H. T. Burleigh, and celebrate the legacy of the American Negro Spiritual. Since then, the festival focuses on a different area of the spiritual and African American music and serves as the major presentation of the Big Blue Opera Initiatives at Tennessee State and features panel discussions and lecture presentations led by prominent scholars and musicians, choral clinics for attendees in varying stations in study, and a vocal masterclass focusing in performance practice and style of African American music. It culminated in a scholarship benefit concert in support of the Harry T. Burleigh Fund for Vocal Studies at Tennessee State University. Each year, the Burleigh Festival grows exponentially in attendance, partnerships, and support, adding new innovations and programming such as world premieres. The National Museum of African American Music has been it’s lead partner since 2016. Other partners and supporters have included ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, the Harry T. Burleigh Society, 91Classical Radio, Early Music City, Weirdo Workshop, Hoskins and Co., 105 Voices of History National HBCU Choir Organization, Classically Black Podcast, and Intersection Contemporary Music Ensemble. The Festival is also a draw for students from numerous colleges and universities institutions such as Austin Peay State University, Oakwood University, Alabama A&M University, and Alabama State University among others. Some notable guest artists and clinicians include soprano, Burleigh biographer Dr. Jean L. Snyder, international soprano Dr. Gale Robinson-Oturu of Austin Peay State, TSU alumnus and renowned conductor and composer Dr. Brandon A. Boyd of the University of Missouri, and soprano Makeda Hampton of the Metropolitan Opera.
For more information or to donate to the Burleigh Fund,