The June/July issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Performing Religious Music of the African American Experience” by M. Roger Holland II. You can read it in its entirety online at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the introduction.
The fervor of sensitivity and attention to issues of justice and equity concerning the Black community may have subsided somewhat since the summer of 2020, but the importance of these conversations and the issues themselves have become no less crucial, important, or relevant. Racial injustice for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community still exists. Inequity at the workplace, institutions of higher learning, and within the realm professional music still occur.
Many of my colleagues in the choral field are concerned about how they might be perceived if they perform music of the African American experience, wanting to “get it right” and not be viewed as appropriating music from another culture in this age of political correctness and a sensitivity to Black culture. It is within this context that this article will address questions and concerns of the appropriation of Black music primarily by white performing ensembles.
To be clear, when I speak of African American sacred or religious music, I speak of those musical forms created by African Americans and not those of other origin that have been adopted or adapted by the Black Church. This includes Euro-American hymns, anthems, and CCM music. While Christian Rap/Hip-Hop was birthed by African Americans, this and the previously mentioned forms fall outside the scope and purpose of this article. I shall confine myself to the two primary sacred artforms that have their origins in the African American community and are the source of most of American music, sacred and secular.
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