Henry Pleas will lead us on a journey in which the black vocal music traditions are revealed and contextualized. This journey is set in "camp meeting" style and begins with music that Africans brought with them to foreign American shores. It continues into the important development of black hymns, spirituals and gospel and isn't over until we've looked at secular traditions emergent up to the turn of the century; that is the year 2000. Joined by pianist Charles Hayes and other instrumentalists and guests, this evening session will be fun, participatory and entertaining. But like any good NATS session, all who attend will walk away knowing a little more: Particularly, about the context for many black music forms, their relationship to one another and an appreciation for how this music can (should) be effectively rendered with healthy singing principles.
The Camp Meeting is an apt metaphor for what we'll be doing in this Late Night NATS session. The Black American spiritual "Walk together chillun" speaks to "a great camp meeting in the promised land," but Eileen Southern in her important treatise, The Music of Black Americans: A History points out that: "The camp meeting was primarily an interracial institution; indeed sometimes there were more black worshippers present than white. Foreign . . . visitors filled their diaries and travel journals with detailed descriptions of the people attending these meetings, of the sermons, of the procedures and above all, of the singing — especially the songs of black folk."