February 7, 2014 will be the 7th anniversary of the US Congress Recognizing the African American Spirituals As A National Treasure. I wanted to share with you a video I made with Dr. Dorothy I. Height(1912-2010) who stood with me, advised me and gave me her full measure of support before and after the legislation passed. For me it was a great privilege to know her as a friend, a mentor and a strong advocate for my work to ensure the Spirituals would be recognized as a National Treasure. She was an extraordinary American and a champion for Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, & Human Rights. Every President and every member of the US Congress in her decades of service and her legendary leadership as President & Chairwoman of the National Council of Negro Women, knew her and respected her strength and fortitude and sought her advice. She never gave up, that’s what she liked about me! I will forever cherish our conversations.
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:
Who can guess what’s happening in 82 days?
- Hint watch this video to find out, then do the math 🙂