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Robert Fay

Aladura is a Yoruba word for “People of Prayer.” The name describes an informal religious movement that began during the first half of the twentieth century in West Africa, particularly Nigeria The movement has grown steadily since Aladura began mostly among members of mainline churches such as the Anglican Methodist or Baptist churches These members usually followed a charismatic man or woman or both who felt called to lead their members as prophets Some of the earliest such movements or churches were the Church of the Lord Aladura Christ Apostolic Church the Garrick Braide movement and the Cherubim and Seraphim The most popular and fastest growing of the Aladura churches in the 1990s included the Celestial Church of Christ and the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star which though established in Nigeria grew to include churches in Europe and the United States The members formed prayer groups thus the ...

Article

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 14, 1760; d Philadelphia, March 26, 1831). American tunebook compiler. A former slave, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1794 and was elected its first bishop on the incorporation of the church in 1816. He compiled a hymnbook of 54 hymns, A Collection of Spiritual Songs and Hymns, for use by his congregation, the Bethel AME Church, in 1801. Later that year an enlarged version was published as A Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs. It was the first hymnbook published by an African American for use by African Americans, and many of the hymns later became sources for black spirituals. With Daniel Coker and James Champion, Allen also compiled the first official hymnbook of the AME Church in 1818.

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Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian musicologist, teacher, and preacher, was born on 13 September 1899 in Peki Avetile in the Volta region of Ghana. He was one of the six children of Stephen Amuyao (popularly known as Papa Stefano in his community) and Sarah Akoram Amma. He was named Koku (Kwaku in Akan) because he was born on a Wednesday. Amu was baptized Ephraim by the Reverend Father Rudolf Mallet of the Bremen Mission, now the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, in Peki.

His father was a farmer and woodcarver, who made musical instruments, among other artifacts. Native music, drumming, and dancing were thus an integral part of Amu’s daily life in his formative years and would greatly influence his future career. He began his basic education in the Bremen Mission School in 1906 at the age of six Initially reluctant to attend he was placed under the care of an older schoolgirl so he ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

to coal miner Theodore and Pauline McConoco. Her mother died when she was two. She married Robert Andrews, but they divorced while still in her teens, Andrews supported her two daughters with domestic work. She washed, ironed, and cooked for six days a week, ten hours a day, for eighteen dollars weekly before deciding, while cooking some rice and beets, that God had planned something better for her. She started writing songs. On weekends she sang with local choirs and as an occasional understudy for childhood friend Dorothy Love with the Gospel Harmonettes.

Gospel star James Cleveland saw Andrews sing with the Harmonettes and brought her to the attention of Albertina Walker, leader of the Caravans. After auditioning for Walker and Dorothy Norwood, Andrews joined the Caravans in 1957 The group found an electrifying performer in Andrews The first number one song with featuring Andrews on lead vocals the ...

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Debra L. Klein

master bata drummer and broker of Yoruba culture, was born on 6 August 1949 in the town of Erin-Osun in present-day Osun State, Nigeria. Ayankunle was born into a large extended family of traditional bata (double-headed, conically shaped drum ensemble) and dundun (double-headed, hourglass-shaped drum ensemble with tension straps) drummers. His father was Ige Ayansina and his mother was Awero Ayansina. Yoruba drumming lineages train their children in the art and profession of bata and dundun drumming. These families celebrate and worship orisa Ayanagalu (the spirit of the drum). Children born into an Ayan (drum family) lineage are given names beginning with the Ayan prefix, such as Ayankunle.

Passed down from generation to generation bata is a five hundred year old drumming singing and masquerade tradition from southwestern Nigeria The fifteenth century reign of Sango marks the earliest documented use of bata drum ensembles in royal contexts One of the ...

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Lois Bellamy

singer, music educator, choral director, was born in Sandfly, Georgia, a tiny hamlet of Savannah, one of thirteen children born to Daphne and Daniel Berksteiner. Her father worked as a carpenter, and her mother took in washing to make ends meet. In addition to the influence of her family, her early years were influenced by her church, the Speedwell Episcopal Church, and its school, Haven Home. It was at Speedwell and Haven Home that Constance received, first, religious instruction and, second, her introduction to academia.

Through her association with the church she received her first scholarship which enabled her to attend and graduate from the Boylan Home High School in Jacksonville Florida The specific point at which Constance realized she could sing is unrecorded There was the singing in the church as a child and in the choir in her high school years Perhaps the realization ...

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Josef Sorett

During the period commonly referred to as the post–civil rights era—starting from the late 1960s and proceeding into the early twenty-first century—two significant cultural developments (among others) emerged simultaneously. With newfound access to the social, cultural, and economic institutions central to American life, black cultural artists achieved a level of (hyper) visibility unimaginable during the previous historical period, when segregation was the law of the land. As part of this shift, hip-hop music and culture emerged and evolved into one of the (if not the most prominent forms of popular culture Similarly paralleling the mainstream political gains achieved by evangelicals a Christian culture industry grew exponentially largely by capitalizing upon the resources attached to media innovations such as cable television and the Internet and reconfigurations of market forces in the era of consumer capitalism The latter advances have enabled the emergence of a new crop of televangelists a number ...

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Barbara Garvey Jackson

composer, pianist, and teacher, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Dr. Monroe Alpheus Majors, a pioneering black physician, medical researcher, and author, and Estelle C. Bonds, a music teacher and organist. Although legally born Majors, she used her mother's maiden name (Bonds) in her youth and throughout her professional life. She grew up in intellectually stimulating surroundings; her mother held Sunday afternoon salons at which young black Chicago musicians, writers, and artists gathered and where visiting musicians and artists were always welcomed.Bonds first displayed musical talent in her piano composition “Marquette Street Blues,” written at the age of five. She then began studying piano with local teachers, and by the time she was in high school she was taking lessons in piano and composition with Florence B. Price and William Levi Dawson two of the first black American symphonic composers both of whom were ...

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Mary Krane Derr

Roman Catholic religious leader, sacred music performer, and social justice activist, was born Bertha J. Bowman in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the granddaughter of slaves and only child of physician Theon Edward Bowman and high school music teacher Mary Esther Coleman. Baptized an Episcopalian, Bertha attended Methodist services. Growing up in segregated, impoverished Canton, Mississippi, she absorbed the spirituality and music of black community elders and her parents' own deep commitments to lives of service. At age ten, she chose to be baptized as a Roman Catholic because she admired the work of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in Canton. In the face of public uproar, white nuns from this order taught black students at Holy Child Jesus Catholic School. Unable to read after five years of poor quality education in segregated public schools, Bertha finally became literate after transferring to this school in 1949 ...

Article

Melvin L. Butler

gospel composer and pastor, was born into a family of sharecroppers in Somerville, Tennessee. Although Brewster stemmed from a humble background, he managed to study a wide variety of subjects, including theology, law, and Hebrew. After graduating from Roger Williams College in 1922 he moved to Memphis, Tennessee. By 1930 Brewster had begun a lifelong tenure as pastor of the East Trigg Baptist Church. A major aspect of Brewster's early ministry centered on the founding of theology schools, and these centers of learning helped to establish his voice as one of moral authority and spiritual guidance in religious circles.

By the time Brewster began seriously publishing his songs in the 1940s he had gained over a decade of experience in his pastoral role This experience provided a wellspring of material for songs that often relayed Old Testament stories and were enjoyed by African American congregations across the United States ...

Article

Gayle Murchison

gospel singer and evangelist known as the “First Lady of Gospel,” was the tenth of thirteen children born to Hannah and James Caesar in Durham, North Carolina. Her tobacco-worker father, active as a local preacher and singer with his Just Come Four Quartet, died when Caesar was about seven. Her mother, who was partially disabled, ran a small store from the back porch of the house; the children worked to support the family. Educated in the Durham public schools, she played piano and sang with two sisters, a cousin, and occasionally one of her brothers at churches, schools, and other functions. She joined the Charity Singers, her earnings supplementing the family income. Known as Baby Shirley, Caesar joined her pastor Bishop Frizelle Yelverton of Mount Calvary Holy Church when he preached at churches in the Carolinas and Virginia (he also had a weekly local radio show). In 1951 Caesar ...

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Kip Lornell

gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Lucy's mother was widowed several months after Lucy's birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, Tennessee, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother's meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family's insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child, Campbell's older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school, winning awards in both penmanship and Latin. Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School (later Booker T. Washington High School as the class valedictorian she ...

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Jeremy Rich

was born in the town of Mujumi, Mhondoro province, Zimbabwe on 8 July 1946. She often asked to watch over her grandfather’s cattle herd so she could sing alone, and became determined to learn to play the mbira (thumb piano) as a young girl. However, Stella ran into much opposition in this youthful goal. The mbira is commonly associated with songs and rituals performed by men in the Shona ethnic community who believed they were communicating with ancestral spirits. Chiweshwe struggled for years to convince her family and others to allow her to master this instrument. Another problem was that Zimbabweans who went to her local mission church were forbidden to listen to traditional songs or perform on the mbira. When she was eight years old Stella attended a ceremony in which older people became possessed by ancestors while the mbira was played. Between 1966 and 1969 Chiweshe ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

gospel singer, arranger, and minister, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Benjamin Cleveland, an employee of the federal Works Progress Administration, and Rosie (Lee) Cleveland. Cleveland's father and grandmother, Annie Hicks, raised him. Hicks was a devout member of the Pilgrim Baptist Church and choir, where pianist and composer Thomas A. Dorsey served as choir director. During the Depression, James delivered newspapers to neighbors such as the gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. By the age of five he had a desire to play the piano like his childhood idol Roberta Martin of the Roberta Martin Singers. Since his family was too poor to afford a piano, he used his windowsill as an imaginary keyboard on which to master scales and chords. The church organist, Lucy Smith, provided Cleveland with formal instruction, and Roberta Martin took an early interest in his career At the age of eight ...

Article

Donald Yacovone

civil rights advocate, musician, and minister, was one of six children born to Earsey Bryant Current and John T. Current, a bank employee, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He grew up in Chicago and Detroit and credited the “outspokenness” of his parents and his grandfather the Reverend Gloster Bryant for his long career in the struggle for black rights (New York Times, 9 July 1997). Current's mother was an officer in the Women's Society of Christian Service, a black women's Methodist organization, and both parents played active roles in their local church. Gloster attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Art and in 1941 received an AB degree from West Virginia State College, near Charleston. In 1951, he earned a master's degree in Public Administration from Wayne State College in Detroit.

On 6 September 1941 he married Leontine Teenie Turpeau of Cincinnati whom Current had met at ...

Article

Lois Bellamy

gospel singer, songwriter, pianist, actor, and humanitarian, was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a barber and a seamstress. His parents’ names are not recorded. He sang his first song at the age of five and began singing, as a teenager, at the Refugee Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in San Antonio. He also began studying classical piano at the same age. Dixon attended a local Catholic college on a scholarship but dropped out to pursue a music career. He began touring at seventeen and played black churches in California, Texas, and Louisiana.

Dixon was introduced to gospel music in his youth when his group performed at a theater in south Texas City, where gospel icon James Cleveland was in the audience Cleveland liked Dixon and persuaded him to move to Chicago as a teenager to join his group The Gospel Chimes Around ...

Article

Norman Weinstein

Prince Far I was born Michael Williams in Spanish Town and grew up in the Waterhouse area of Kingston, Jamaica. His musical career began in 1970 when he convinced the Reggae producer Coxsone Dodd (who employed him as a security guard at Studio One, Jamaica's most famous recording studio) to let him record when a scheduled musician failed to appear for a session. Dodd was so taken by Prince Far I's talent as a DJ (someone chanting or talking-singing spontaneously over prerecorded rhythm tracks) that he released several Prince Far I recordings under the name he created for the performer, King Cry-Cry As he gained confidence and sought other producers for his recordings Williams changed his name to Prince Far I Distinguishing features of his recordings under the name King Cry Cry or Prince Far I include a thunderously deep bass delivery of intensively personal lyrics laced ...

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Philip Herbert

Negro vocal ensemble renowned for introducing to the concert platform a body of slave songs and spirituals. Fisk University was founded in 1866 in Nashville, Tennessee, to educate former slaves. A financial crisis was generated as a result of dilapidated accommodation that needed to be restored and developed. In response to this, during 1871, George L. White (music teacher and bursar), formed the Fisk Jubilee Singers, to tour and fundraise. They planned to sing ballads, arias, and popular religious choral works, showing how cultured former slaves could be; but audiences preferred their authentic slave songs and spirituals, expressing Christian themes of compensation in heaven for the injustices and trials endured on earth. Aptly, their name came from Old Testament history, when at every fiftieth Pentecost a year of Jubilee followed, and when by Hebrew law slaves were freed.

Between 1871 and 1878 they toured extensively receiving critical acclaim ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Aretha Louise Franklin grew from a young gospel singer into a successful and world-famous vocalist. Her many popular hits and gospel masterpieces have earned her the title Queen of Soul. As a daughter of the renowned Baptist preacher C. L. Franklin and his wife, well-known singer Barbara Siggers Franklin, Franklin was born into the world of Gospel Music. Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in Detroit, Michgan, where her father drew a congregation of 4,500 people to his New Bethel Baptist Church. C. L. Franklin recognized his daughter's talent, and she was performing in New Bethel's choir by the age of eight. She sang solos at age twelve, and at fourteen she made her first recordings, including a version of Thomas A. Dorsey s gospel classic Precious Lord Take My Hand Franklin also began touring with her father singing wherever he served as ...

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Roanne Edwards

Known as “the father of Brazilian music,” José Maurício Nunes Garcia gained recognition in the early nineteenth century as a composer of church music. He wrote hymns, masses, chants, antiphones, and Te Deums, and his Requiem Mass (1816) is considered by music scholars to be one of the most significant masses ever written in Latin America. Although he wrote mostly sacred music, he was influenced by secular styles, most notably by Italian opera and by the Viennese masters, Haydn and Mozart. One of Haydn's former students, the Austrian musician Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm, considered Garcia “the greatest improviser in the world on the clavichord.”

Born in Rio de Jainero, Garcia was the son of a Portuguese lieutenant, Apolinário Nunes Garcia, and a black woman, Vitória Maria da Cruz He studied harpsichord viola and solfège at the academy of Salvador José de Almeida e ...