Negro Spirituals Heritage Day Nears

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By Friends of Negro Spirituals

It seems that slavery born Negro Spirituals have an almost human will to live. You Better Mind, There’s a Brightside Somewhere, and Down by the Riverside are among songs that have been inspiring Blacks and others to sing them for generations.

This wonderful heritage of music and some of its keepers will be honored by Friends of Negro Spirituals and the San Francisco Public Library’s African American Center on Negro Spirituals Heritage Day on Saturday, October 17, 2015, 1:30 to 3:30 PM, in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Main Library, located at 100 Larkin Street. The public is invited.

Communities are expected to gather, joyfully sing some of the old songs, and enjoy screening excerpts from Friends of Negro Spirituals’ and Mills College’s award winning Negro Spirituals oral history DVD project, In Own Words – The Negro Spirituals Heritage Keepers. The DVD features snippets of leading Bay Area preservers of Spirituals documenting their Negro Spirituals histories.

The always welcomed Negro Spirituals Heritage Keeper’s Awards Ceremony will be another highlight; acclaimed baritone Robert Sims will serve as MC. Three individuals and a choir will receive The Negro Spirituals Heritage Keeper’s Award, two of them posthumously. The late recipients are Eugene F. Jones, who founded and directed The Echoes from Jordan Community Choir, who founded and served as the first Music Director of the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, and who was Oakland’s first African American career fireman; The Echoes from Jordan Choir; and “Light” Devoy Edwin Harris (1933-2014), who co-founded The University of Light and who founded and directed the Jubilee Singers. The third recipient is Tiearea Jua-Nea Angel Robinson, a 26 year old PhD student, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, and a Negro Spirituals scholar and lecturer, California State University Dominguez Hill, Carson City, CA.

Friends of Negro Spirituals, an Oakland based organization, presents free Negro Spirituals education programs, contributing to keeping the old heritage of Negro Spirituals alive by educating the public about it.

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