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!

For All Mom’s On Earth And In Heaven

Dear Mom,

I love you. As we celebrate Mother’s Day I am reminded of the beauty and strength of Mothers all over the world who nurture and tend to their children’s needs 24/7/365. You were no different Mom. Today, I imagine you in Heaven with your dancing shoes on, free to be you, singing joyfully your favorite spiritual song “Glory, Glory Hallelujah, Since I Laid My Burdens Down” and feeling safe and unconditionally loved by the Lord you loved so much on your earthly journey. Quite a different experience from your own life here on earth, which was filled with tragedy, poverty and fear, yet you had faith and hope that one day you would know peace. I imagine you know what that feels like now, and that makes me happy.

I came into your life when you were in your mid forties. I was your 9th child, and 7th son. Although I don’t actually remember it, the circumstances surrounding my birth were difficult at best, for several reasons. Not that I need any more reasons to love you, but when I learned just how much you had to overcome in your life, I was inspired by your shear will power and faith to overcome all the obstacles in your path. What transpired in a matter of 2 years just prior to my birth, could have easily fractured and separated any family, yet somehow even with hearts broken and your life shattered, your faith pulled you and your family through.

As the words flow from my heart onto this page as I tell the intimate details of your life, it’s hard to hold back the tears. The truth is your life story has given me hope and faith and has given me the strength I’ve needed to get through the hard times in my own life. One of the many gifts a Mother gives to her children.

Two years before I was born you gave birth to twins, Bessie and Jesse, however this joyful occasion became a tragic one. Bessie and Jesse were premature so they were put in incubators. Sadly the temperature in the incubator was too high, and the twins both died a horrendous death within a few short hours. My siblings years later, described the situation to me. I was told the twins skin looked and felt like crispy fried chicken which peeled off in your hands Mom, as you held their lifeless bodies in your arms, a visual image etched in my brain forever. I can’t even imagine the depth of your disbelief and pain. A year later, in September tragedy struck again. Walter Ale, your 6 year old son while having his tonsils removed by the local country doctor, the doctor cut a main artery during the operation and Walter bled to death on the operating table. Still mourning your loss of the twins, now Walter too, the family endured struggling emotionally but needed to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table. Within 4 short months I would be born. I was born just after midnight, but what happened in the hours just prior to my birth caused me to also be born early. On the evening of my birth, as you were rushing to get your other children inside the house to safety in a dangerous electrical storm, you with me still in your womb were hit by ricocheted lightening, and a few hours later I was born premature delivered by a midwife in a share cropper cabin on the Glen Lillie Farm where you and Dad lived and worked in the fields. Somehow through it all you held our fractured family together, keeping a closer eye and a heightened protective spirit on all your children until your death, because it is what Mom’s do.

Although your burdens were great, I remember your smile as it lit up the room. I remember eating Sunday suppers with your homemade biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and collard greens from the garden. I remember the hats you wore to church. I remember your face when all you had to feed me was sugar water because that’s all we had. I remember your smile, when I took your seasoned cast iron skillet outside, where I tried to clean in by rubbing and scraping it with dirt and water to clean it up. I had wanted to really clean it up for you, and you never let me know that I had ruined it. I also need to ask for your forgiveness Mom. All my life until I was fifteen we celebrated my birthday on January 15th. When I needed to get my birth certificate to get my drivers license and my birth certificate showed I was actually born on the 16th I was hurt and angry with you that you didn’t even know your own son’s birthday. Once I knew the truth surrounding my birth, I clearly see and understand why. I’m sorry I questioned your love for me in that moment. As an adult I see how foolish I was to question your love for me. I am sorry. Somehow Mother’s always seem to move past their own pain, fear and disappointments to look after their children as best as they can. I will always be grateful to you Mom.

Although you passed a long time ago, I am inspired by your story and how you just kept going in spite of the difficulties you faced daily. Today, way too many Mothers are losing their children to gun violence, poverty and fear. I hope you can hear me Mom, because I want you to know I am filled with gratitude that you were my Mother, and I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for you to raise your children, with all the heartbreaking tragedy you faced head on. I see your face Mom, when I see the Mother’s faces today, who display their beauty, strength, and their unwavering quest for justice for their children, like you. They endure the pain of losing a child. Yet life goes on, Mothers just keep moving forward, they never give up, they always find a way out of no way.

I salute you Mom and all the Mother’s in the world and in Heaven.

Love from your 7th son,

Calvin

Happy Mother’s Day!

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.
1 2 3 4 29