Black History Month Music

An Anthology of African and African Diaspora Songs:
Buy it! Now!

Over the years, there has been a man who has been a constant support in my career: Glendower Jones.  I even gave him a nickname: My Music Dealer. Glendower knows that when I email him, I am always ‘desperate’ for music that I needed yesterday. If he does not know about it, it does not exist.

This year, for Black History Month, I promised myself I had to do better. I had to learn more about classical black female composers. As per usual, Glendower reassured me that he could provide me with the perfect anthology.

Upon receipt of this 305 — yes, 305! — pages book, I started to play through the songs, and I was overwhelmed by the variety and sheer beauty of these songs. I selected The Sum by Florence Price, for my choir to learn. It is not a choral song. This season we are studying the music of female composers throughout history. Another song, that moved me was I Want to Die While You Love Me by Rosephanye Powell.

This Anthology has songs for everyone, from low voices to high voices. Several songs have high tessitura, which, in my opinion, are ideal for young soprano voices who have not mastered the middle voice. Some are complex. I also like that some are very short. I always appreciated short songs that left us wanting more.  This is a complete anthology, with biographies, translations, IPA. Every single vocal coach, pedagogue, and singer needs to purchase this anthology.

Lastly, I cite, “But perhaps the most important unique feature of An Anthology of African and African Diaspora Songs is that it is intentionally designed to be accessible, attractive, and singable for singers on the high school and college undergraduate levels!! The texts, vocal ranges, and dynamic demands of these songs make them very singable while at the same time presenting musically, textually, and vocally challenging repertory that will be welcomed by both teachers and singers.” (Willis Patterson, p.8, 2020).

Thank you to Glendower Jones for, once again, saving the day, and helping me discover such beautiful music, and poetry. Go buy it. Now!

By Kristine Dandavino

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