Calvin Earl
I Travel The Back Roads Of America In Search Of The Elements Of Peace In Our Musical Heritage & History.

Hidden Within The Spirituals

What exactly is hidden in a spiritual? Was there a path to freedom embedded in these songs? Were the enslaved Africans just victims or were their triumphs hidden in plain view? What are we teaching our children? These are questions that need answers. Perhaps a new perspective of your own history and the history of your ancestors holds a key to lead you on a new path in life where you feel supported and loved as you grow in your talents and manifest your destiny to become the best you can be. It is possible that the reason you might not believe this is because the perspective of your history has been skewed to ensure you think otherwise. Together we can take the blinders off, and take a look at who we really are and what our ancestors paid forward. 

The next question to ask is who are we and what have we become? My 4 part concert/lecture series beginning with: The History Of The African American Spirituals reveals the answers through a musical and cultural arts perspective.  America, “The Great American Experiment” began as a fledgling country in search of its soul by ruling itself as a democracy. For the first time in world history, a country would choose a governing leadership that would be comprised of individuals coming together as equals to form a government for, of and by the people to collectively be responsible for defining and governing our destiny as a country. Some of these ideals have yet to be fulfilled, and in order to accomplish this we must be the change. We must not settle for stagnation or apathy as the acceptable norm, instead we must choose hope and a willingness to create solutions to end poverty, racism and injustice for the good of our children and our nation.

Through music and storytelling I explore and redefine the American story, not as a black story or a white story but as a “We The People” story. Segregation and separate but equal laws have perpetuated and assisted in the coverup of true historical facts, by hiding the truth of American history and history worldwide of people of color. I share with you what I learned at the UNESCO Conference on slavery worldwide and through my own studies and what I learned from my elders in the cotton fields as a young boy. The oral history I learned from my elders in the cotton fields was raw, unfiltered and needed  some decoding. However the scholars written interpretation and the institutions preservation of history has been tainted by an agenda of race supremacy and intentional division. Thankfully the scholars, universities, historical sites and institutions are acknowledging the coverup of history and are seeking to correct the wrong doing and present the truth. However, this takes time and there are continuing efforts to keep the truth hidden.  

In the mean time, I share the oral history of my ancestors by telling their stories and original music we call spirituals. I also share my own success and leadership role in 2007 recognizing the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure by the 110th US Congress. Also by pointing out the obvious untruths and sharing the stories and music of our ancestors including songs and stories of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s is starkly different than the Colonialists intentional slant written in our history books to divide and conquer us. Believing music and the cultural arts give us all a better understanding of who we are as Americans as individuals will also help us continue to build a better country and future for our children. Bring your questions and a song in your heart to this interactive concert / lecture series. BOOK A CONCERT NOW!

Life Is A Gift: Thoughts From My Soul

Life is a gift. As human beings we each must own and be responsible for our thoughts and deeds. Religion is a thought created by human beings as a way of acknowledging and showing gratitude towards the Power that created us all or as many of us call the Power: God

As human beings on our human journey we have decided we must defend our own version of God by casting judgement on our fellow man because of our differences in thoughts, where we were born, or the color of our skin. For some reason we believe God needs defending and we need to criticize our differences in God’s name. The truth is God made no mistakes in creating us. Perhaps if we change our thoughts we might see our differences as blessings. Recognizing our differences as blessings will awaken our free will to discover our own path to freedom from fear, hate, poverty, greed, violence, unjust deeds and unkind thoughts toward one an other. 

In my humble opinion I think we have forgotten who the power belongs to. God does not ask us to defend Him.  God needs no defense after all. God is the one who created us not the other way around. God’s only request of us is to love each other unconditionally as we all belong to God and God sees us all as perfect.  Loving and blessing each other instead of judging each other is what God asks of us. Let it begin with me. I love you all unconditionally. May God bless you, and comfort you and give you peace. And so it is. Amen!

African American Spirituals Forgotten

The African American Spirituals are just too valuable to be forgotten. In my many conversations with my dear friend Dr. Dorothy Height(1912-2010), Civil Rights icon, former Chair and President Emerita for National Council of Negro Women said to me, “I am so proud of you Calvin for presenting this historic legislation to the US Congress, because without preserving the African American Spirituals, it would be like we were never here”. Even today, her words add fuel to the fire in my soul to establish a Center For Learning for this precious historical music and oral history. For me, preserving the African American Spirituals, preserves the spirit of all America, and after all the spirituals are recognized as our national music. 

Amazingly, the songs the slaves created, (known as the spirituals) allowed the slaves to be heard during a time when they were not allowed to have a voice. Their secret communications within these songs not only changed the course of history, thankfully it preserved their oral history, healed their pain, and paid forward to their children the idea that fortitude, courage and resilience will ultimately give them their human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Now that the African American Spirituals are recognized as an American National Treasure, through the Twin Resolutions I proposed and passed by unanimous vote in the US Congress in 2007, my work is not complete yet. I know it is vitally important to establish a resource center to house the history of the African American Spirituals and the enslaved African’s oral history embedded in the songs. I want to establish and build a National African American Spirituals House, that would include a center for learning, a performing arts center, and be an educational resource for school curriculums across America.  A note to self: When you have a dream, it’s time to get to work.

Dr. Dorothy I. Height supported Calvin Earl with Twin Resolutions recognizing the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure. This picture was taken at her birthday party celebrating her 97th birthday in Washington DC at the NCNW office building.

SPIRITUALS ARE THE VOICE OF A PEOPLE

Calvin Earl

The spirituals represent the spirit of hope for our nation. The spirituals set a moral high ground standard similar to the moral high ground set in our Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. The spirituals are the voice of our people who endured institutionalized slavery but chose forgiveness and healing by allowing anyone who hears their music to feel their pain and sorrow and yet feel the universal emotion of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. 

Our slave brothers and sisters, my ancestors, chose the moral high ground to deal with their pain in hopes future generations would never have to experience the demoralization of being labeled a slave and the impact it has on the human psyche. Our brother and sister Abolitionists also believed slavery was immoral and continued to speak out and fight  against slavery until slavery was abolished in our country. The American story is messy and uncomfortable to talk about, but we must talk about our history in order to heal from our “original sin” of institutionalized slavery that has turned into racism and new kind of slavery aimed at people of color in the form of institutionalize incarceration for profit. What is needed today is a diverse and inclusive perspective of our history and history in the making, not a one sided point of view. 

The spirituals provide us with America’s oral history, a vehicle for communal singing as was demonstrated during the Civil Rights Movement when artists and activists transformed spirituals into freedom songs to bring and motivate ”we the people” to join together.

It is human nature to want your voice heard. It is also human nature to contribute and share your best God given talents to those around you so that collectively together your community will not only live but thrive. Coming together as a people putting our personal needs and wants aside for a higher purpose demanding human and civil rights for not only ourselves but for future generations not yet born. 

Dr. King once said “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society.”

In spite of colonization and the divisive nature of labeling human beings in order to establish one race’s superiority over another, the American people have joined together in movements that have charted a new course for our country.   People have risen above oppression and leaders using the divisive tactic of divide and conquer to silence the common man. Our history my be uncomfortable, but if we talk about it and make efforts to stay on the moral high ground, we all can become the change we want to see.

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