SOURCE: The Spirituals Project

The Spirituals Project

December 03, 2012 12:54 ET

R E A P National Conference on the Spirituals Set for June 13-15, 2013 at the University of Denver

The Spirituals Project Community Choir to Perform World Premiere of Commissioned Choral Work

DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - Dec 3, 2012) - The world premiere of a choral work by Dr. Jacqueline Hairston, performed by The Spirituals Project Community Choir, will be one of the highlights of the inaugural R E A P National Conference on the Spirituals, to be held June 13 - 15, 2013 on the University of Denver campus. Dr. Hairston is an ASCAP award-winning composer, arranger, pianist, vocal coach and music educator. Her new work, commissioned expressly for the R E A P Conference, will premiere June 15, 2013.

Co-sponsored by The Spirituals Project and the University of Denver, the R E A P National Conference will focus on the varied dimensions of the spirituals as represented by the four pillars of Research, Education, Activism, and Performance (R E A P). 

"The R E A P Conference is designed to facilitate dialogue between professionals and laypersons from around the country who share our interest in preserving and revitalizing the multi-layered cultural legacy of the spirituals," says Dr. Arthur Jones, founder of The Spirituals Project. "The varied presentations and performances will address diverse interests including music, education, literature, history, religion, culture and social justice."

Civil rights historian and activist Dr. Vincent Harding and distinguished poet Nikki Giovanni will be among the event's keynote speakers. Dr. Harding, a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and professor emeritus of religion and social transformation at Denver's Iliff School of Theology, will discuss the freedom songs of the civil rights movement. Giovanni, a Virginia Tech University professor of literature, will address the importance of spirituals as a treasured African American cultural tradition.

The R E A P Conference also will include presentations by Dr. Reiland Rabaka (University of Colorado - Boulder), "Lift Every Voice and Sing and Rap! From the Spirituals and the Abolitionist Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Movement"; Dr. Stephanie Krusemark (Naropa University), "Reclaiming the History of African American Women at the University of Denver: The Life of Madame Emma Azalia Smith Hackley (1867-1922)"; and Dr. Gena Chandler (Virginia Tech University), who will speak about the influence of spirituals in American literature and share experiences of teaching this content in college courses.

Workshop presenters and their topics will include Dr. Susheel Bibbs: "Voices for Freedom -- An Introduction to the Hyers Sisters' Dream"; Timothy Botts: "Painting the Spirituals: Using Artistry, Words and Cross-Cultural Collaboration to Interpret the Spirituals Across History and Race"; Tamara Roberts: "Spirituals, Bomba and the Musical Legacy of Slavery in the Greater Caribbean"; Bill Doggett: "The Negro Spiritual: First Recordings: Highlights from the Bill Doggett Sound Archive"; Randye Jones: "Use of Dialect in the Solo Performance of Negro Spirituals"; Tiearea Robinson: "Therapeutic Techniques: The Healing Element of the Spirituals"; M. Liz Andrews: "Song of the Commodity"; Sam Edwards: "Under-considered or Unrecognized West/Central Oral Traditions in Some Folk Spirituals"; Marta Burton: "Prison Blues & the New Jim Crow"; Dr. Stephanie Boddie: "Spirituals and the Souls of Black Folks"; Dr. Jacqueline Hairston: "The Negro Spiritual: How We Already Knew What We Already Knew"; Arvis Jones: "The Healing Power of Music As It Relates to Spirituals"; and Wendy Willbanks Wiesner: "Harris Neck: The Struggle for Our Land and the Songs That Galvanize Our Community."

Featured performers at the R E A P Conference will include baritone Anthony Brown and mezzo-soprano Erica Papillion-Posey.

The Spirituals Project is an award-winning secular, non-profit organization established in 1998, with administrative offices on the University of Denver campus. Its mission is the preservation and revitalization of the music and teachings of the songs commonly known as "spirituals," created and first sung by enslaved African women and men in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Spirituals Project operates a number of community-based programs involving performance and education, including regular concerts by its renowned 70-member multi-ethnic, multi-generational choir. The organization also maintains a popular online educational resource, Sweet Chariot: The Story of the Spirituals, which provides information and guides for further study about the multifaceted history and cultural impact of the spirituals tradition.

R E A P Conference registration is open online at Discounted "Early Bird" registration rates are available until December 31, 2012.

For more information on The Spirituals Project, please visit or call 303-871-7993.