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Shelle Sumners

Lázaro Ros was born to a poor family in Havana in 1925. Even as a child, he was known to have a beautiful voice and he learned ancient songs of the Yoruba from Eugenio de la Rosa, a master singer.

In 1950 Ros was initiated into the Regla de Osha (Rule of Osha)—the system of beliefs and rituals practiced by the Lucumí (Yoruba for “friends”), the descendants of the Nigerian Yoruba people in Cuba, for the worship of Orishas, or deities. The Lucumí religion is also known as Santería, or cult of the saints, because to preserve their religious practices Cuban slaves were forced to meld their orishas with the identities of Roman Catholic saints, whom they ostensibly worshiped for the benefit of white slave owners. Lázaro Ros' particular orisha is Oggun the warrior spirit who represents among other things metal and civilization In ...


Gayle Murchison

composer, conductor, singer, scholar, and folk song collector, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of John Wesley Work Sr., a Nashville church choir director, and Samuella Boyd. The senior Work composed and arranged music for his choirs, which included members of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers, and that work instilled in the younger Work a love of African American folk music, especially spirituals. Work attended public schools in Nashville and graduated from Meigs High School in about 1891. After studying music, Latin, and history at Fisk University, he studied classics at Harvard for two years, beginning in 1896. He sang in the Mozart Society, which awakened further interest in spirituals. He returned to Fisk, where he spent a year as a library assistant while completing a master's degree before assuming teaching duties in 1898 He taught Latin and history at ...