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Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh

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Recordings of Negro Spirituals composed by Harry Thacker Burleigh

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Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh

  1. 1. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Celebrating the 150th Birthday of Composer Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) Randye Jones, Presenter December 1, 2016
  2. 2. Biography Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949) had well established himself as a professional musician by the mid-1910’s. He served as baritone soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church of New York. He had published several individual songs, most notably “Jean” (1903) and “Ethiopia Saluting the Colors” (1915), and song cycles, including Saracen Songs (1914) and Five Songs by Laurence Hope (1915). He had also become a music editor for G. Ricordi in 1900. Burleigh continued and expanded his contacts with the Black musical and academic community. He had two brief brushes with vaudeville. He was a guest lecturer and performer at Black colleges and universities. He became acquainted with celebrated personalities such as composers Will Marion Cook, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Robert Nathaniel Dett, and academicians Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. He also wrote a few vocal and instrumental works based on the plantation melodies he had learned as a child. However, his 1916 setting of the spiritual, “Deep River,” is considered the first work of that genre to be written in art song form specifically for performance by a trained singer. “Deep River,” and other spiritual settings became very popular to concert performers and recording artists, both black and white. It was soon normal for recitals to end with a group of spirituals. Musicians such as Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson made these songs a part of their repertoires. There are various estimates of the number of songs Burleigh wrote, ranging from 200 to 300. A more extensive biography on Burleigh is available at http://afrovoices.com/harry-thacker- burleigh-biography/ Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh
  3. 3. H. T. Burleigh’s Spiritual Art Songs • Published “Deep River” for solo voice and piano in 1916, becoming the first art song using Negro Spirituals as source • Texts of Spirituals settings regularly use dialect • Burleigh’s experience as a singer evident in both the tessitura and range of the vocal lines • Simplicity of piano accompaniment lends itself to improvisation by singer Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh
  4. 4. Robert McFerrin, baritone (1921-2006) Deep River (1916) Deep river, My home is over Jordan; Deep river, Lord, I want cross over into campground. Oh, don’t you want to go To that gospel feast; That promised land Where all is peace. Deep river, Lord, I want cross over into campground. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh
  5. 5. H. T. Burleigh, baritone Go Down Moses (1919) When Israel was in Egypt land Let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand Let my people go! Go down Moses Way down in Egypt land Tell all pharaohs to Let my people go! Thus saith the Lord, bold Moses said: -let my people go! if not I'll smite your firstborn's dead -let my people go! Go down Moses… Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh
  6. 6. Dame Nellie Melba, soprano (1861-1931) Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (1917) Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home. Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home. I looked over Jordan, what do I see, Coming for to carry me home. A band of angels coming after me, Coming for to carry me home. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home. Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me home.
  7. 7. Roland Hayes, tenor (1887-1977) By an’ By (1917) Oh, by an’ by, by an’ by I’m goin’ to lay down dis heavy load. I know my robe’s goin’ to fit me well, I’m goin’ to lay down my heavy load; I tried it on at de gates ob Hell, I’m goin’ to lay down my heavy load. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Oh, some-a dese morning’s bright an’ fair, I’m goin’ to lay down my heavy load. Gwine to take-a my wings an’ cleave de air, I’m goin’ to lay down my heavy load.
  8. 8. Marian Anderson, contralto (1897-1993) Heaven, Heaven (1921) I got a robe, you got a robe, All God’s children got a robe; When I get to Heaven going to put on my robe I’m going to shout all over God’s Heaven, Heaven, Heaven. Everybody talking ‘bout Heaven ain’t going there. Heaven, Heaven; Going to shout all over God’s Heaven. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh I got shoes, you got shoes, All God’s children got shoes; When I get to Heaven going to put on my shoes I’m going to walk all over God’s Heaven,… I got a harp, you got a harp, All God’s children got a harp; When I get to Heaven going to play on my harp, I’m going to play all over God’s Heaven,…
  9. 9. Paul Robeson, bass-baritone (1898-1976) Balm in Gilead (1919) There is a balm in Gilead To make the wounded whole There is a balm in Gilead To heal the sin-sick soul. Sometimes I feel discouraged And think my work’s in vain; And then the Holy Spirit Revives my soul again. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh If you can preach like Peter, If you can pray like Paul, Go home and tell your neighbor He died to save us all.
  10. 10. William Warfield, baritone (1920-2002) Nobody Knows de Trouble I’ve Seen (1917) Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen, Nobody knows but Jesus, Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen, Glory hallelujah! Sometimes I’m up sometimes I’m down, Oh yes, Lord! Sometimes I’m almos’ to de groun’; Oh yes, Lord! Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh If you get there before I do, Oh yes, Lord! Tell all-a-my friends I’m coming too, Oh yes, Lord!
  11. 11. Leontyne Price, soprano (b. 1927) Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit (1925) Ev’ry time I feel de Spirit Movin’ in ma heart, I will pray. Ev’ry time I feel de Spirit Movin’ in ma heart, I will pray. Up on de mount-un ma Lord spoke, Out ‘o His mouth came fier an’ smoke. Jerdan Ribber chilly an’ col,’ Chill de body but not de soul. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh All aroun’ me look so shine Ask ma Lord if all was mine. Ain’t but one train runs dis track, It runs to Heaven an’ runs right back.
  12. 12. Sherrill Milnes, baritone (b. 1935) Were You There (1918) Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble; Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble; Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
  13. 13. Martina Arroyo, soprano (b. 1937) Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray (1922) An’ I couldn’t hear nobody pray, An’ I couldn’t hear nobody pray, O ‘way down yonder by myself An’ I couldn’t hear nobody pray. In de valley! I couldn’t hear nobody pray. On my knees! I couldn’t hear nobody pray. With my burden! I couldn’t hear nobody pray. An’ my Savior! I couldn’t hear nobody pray! Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Chilly water… In de Jerdon! Crossin’ over! Into Canaan! Hallelujah!... Troubles over!... In the Kingdom!... With my Jesus!
  14. 14. Barbara Hendricks, soprano (b. 1948) I've Been in de Storm So Long (1927) I’ve been in de storm so long; I’ve been in de storm so long children; I’ve been in de storm so long; Oh, give me little time to pray. Oh, let me tell my mother how I come along Oh, give me little time to pray; With a hung down head an’ a aching heart, Oh, give me little time to pray. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Oh when I get to heavn, I’ll walk all about, Oh give me little time to pray, Dere’ll be nobody dere to turn me out, Oh give me little time to pray.
  15. 15. Lawrence Brownlee, tenor (b. 1972) Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child (1918) Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, A long way from home. A long way from home. A long way from home. Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone, Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone, Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone, A long way from home. A long way from home. A long way from home.
  16. 16. Conclusions Burleigh has: • Influenced singers to study and perform his works • Inspired composers to emulate his compositional style and explore an even wider range of musical elements in their own settings • Encouraged historians and theorists to identify how his works drew from the roots of the Negro Spiritual and fostered development of other American vocal music Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh
  17. 17. Questions? “. . . In Negro spirituals my race has pure gold, and they should be taken as the Negro’s contribution to artistic possessions. In them we show a spiritual security as old as the ages. . . . These songs always denote a personal relationship. It is ‘my Saviour,’ ‘my sorrow,’ ‘my kingdom.’ The personal note is ever present. America’s only original and distinctive style of music is destined to be appreciated more and more.” -- Harry Thacker Burleigh Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh
  18. 18. Discography Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh • Anderson, Marian. Marian Anderson. Nimbus Records NI 7882, 1996, compact disc. • Arroyo, Martina. Spirituals. Centaur CRC 2060, 1991, compact disc. • Brownlee, Lawrence. This Heart That Flutters. London OA CD9015 D, 2013, compact disc. • Burleigh, Harry T. Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1891-1922. Archeophone Records ARCH 1005, 2005, compact disc. • Hayes, Roland. Black Europe: the Sounds and Images of Black People in Europe pre-1927. Bear Family Productions BCD 16095, 2013, compact disc. • Hendricks, Barbara. Give Me Jesus: Spirituals. EMI Classics 5 56788 2, 1998, compact disc. • McFerrin, Robert. Classic Negro Spirituals. Washington Records WLP 466, 1959, long-playing disc. • Melba, Nellie (Dame) Dame Nellie Melba: The First Recordings. Australian Broadcasting Corporation Classics DB 989, 2009, compact disc. • Milnes, Sherrill. Abide with Me. RCA Red Seal ARL1-1403, 1976, long-playing disc. • Price, Leontyne. The Essential Leontyne Price: Spirituals, Hymns & Sacred Songs. BMG Classics 09026-68157-2, 1996, compact disc. • Robeson, Paul. Songs of Free Men. Sony Classical MHK 63223, 1997, compact disc. • Warfield, William. Spirituals: 200 Years of African-American Spirituals. ProArte CDD 3443, 1993, compact disc.
  19. 19. Presenter Contact Information Randye Jones rljones@afrovoices.com Afrocentric Voices in “Classical” Music http://afrovoices.com Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh

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