I want to share with you another fascinating aspect of the history of the Negro Spirituals. In this video you will learn about the Fisk Jubilee Singers & Ella Sheppard and the vital roll she played in changing the course of history for the Spirituals. Under her leadership as choir director for the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Ella Sheppard, a former slave herself, changed the course of the history for the spirituals, by arranging and transforming these sacred & secret songs of her ancestors into a choir format for performance purposes. This video clip is from one of my performances depicting a true life changing event for Ella Sheppard & the Fisk Jubilee Singers. This was just one of many dangerous encounters experienced by the Fisk Jubilee Singers as they traveled the country to raise money for Fisk University. I invite you to join me with your support of my efforts to ensure the history of the Spirituals as a National Treasure by downloading a song or the entire historic CD “gratitude” at https://calvinearl.com/store or go directly to iTunes
Sometimes I find myself getting discouraged by the lack of interest and responsibility we have to preserve our albeit imperfect yet extraordinary national cultural heritage & music. I have asked myself this question a million times: What can I do or what can I say that will loose the chains of bondage we are still in today that keeps us from knowing our awe inspiring slave brothers & sisters who endured slavery in this country?…………then as my despair reaches a low point, as luck would have it, I find a letter of support on my desk from Dr. Dorothy Height, one of America’s greatest Civil Rights leaders sent me in 2005 that turns my despair into determination to keep going once again. Here is a quote from her letter:
This is a true life story on my journey to ensure the Negro Spirituals were honored and recognized as an American National Treasure. In order to tell the story, I need to briefly speak about my early childhood, where my passion for the spirituals first began. I was born in the backfields in a sharecropper cabin in Gatesville, NC. Mom was hit by ricocheted lightening and within minutes I was born premature, a few minutes after midnight on the day of our Lord January 16th. They tell me that I was born with my eyes open and to the elders and to my families Bishop that was a sign from God. I was ordained a Christian Bishop on the spot, and that changed my life from that day forward and I’m gonna tell…….