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Music: Classical

The MUSIC section is subdivided by category; I cross list resources where categories overlap:

1. Lesson Plans and Teacher's Guides

2. Web Sites: General Grants, databases, online exhibits, sources for recorded and printed music.

Web Sites: Individuals Classical composers and performers

3. Books: Surveys and books on specific topics in music.

4. CDs & Tapes: Anthologies to provide historical perspective, resources for singing with students.

6. Videos

7. Sheet Music: 8. GIA Publications African American Church Series: Books, CDs, Sheet Music and More


Lesson Plans & Teacher's Guides

African-American Artists in 'The World of Tomorrow'
Middle-High School, 3 lessons

Discover the role that the music of William Grant Still, the art of Augusta Savage, and others played in the arts at the 1939 New York World's Fair and the historic context of those art forms.

Websites: General

African-American Sheet Music at the Library of Congress (1850-1920)

Special Presentation: The Development of an African-American Musical Theatre 1865-1910

Over 1,305 pieces of African-American sheet music, digitized for viewing and printing. Includes: songs of antebellum black face minstrelsy, abolitionist movement, songs associated with "Uncle Tom's Cabin," African-American soldiers and the newly emancipated slave, Reconstruction and the Great Migration.

"African-American popular composers include James Bland, Ernest Hogan, Bob Cole, James Reese Europe, and Will Marion Cook. Twentieth century titles feature many photographs of African-American musical performers, often in costume."

Myrtle Hart Society

This content rich site chronicles the heritage and ongoing actitivities of the classical community of color. You'll find their eNewsletter, reviews, events plus links to information about composers and artists, and many useful sites for the procurement of sheet music, scholarships, etc.

Black Composers

Annotated list of CDs featuring music by Harry T. Burleigh, William Grant Still, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, and many more. Includes links to purchasing information.

Archives of African American Music

"Established in 1991, the Archives of African American Music and Culture (AAAMC) is a repository of materials covering musical idioms and cultural expressions from the post-World War II era. The AAAMC supports the research of scholars, students, and the general public from around the world by providing access to oral histories, photographs, musical and print manuscripts, audio and video recordings, and educational broadcast programs, among other holdings."

Center for Black Music Research

"The CBMR is devoted to research, preservation, and dissemination of information about the history of black music on a global scale." It includes a musician's database and information about research fellowships, events and more.

Afrocentric Voices in "Classical" Music

Bibliographies, a small but growing collection of biographies, chronology and a list of libraries and research centers that house collections of resources by and about African American musicians.

African American Art Song Alliance

Founded in 1997, this is the home of interchange between performers and scholars interested in art song by African-American composers. Includes links, recordings, information on composers and more. Composers and Musicians of African Descent

Recordings, classroom resources and more.

Classical Music Recordings of Black Composers: A Reference Guide

Compiled by Dr. Richard Greene of Temple University, this comprehensive discography of CD recordings identifies the recorded works of almost 100 black composers. It is available both online and as a print version. The web site includes music references, recent recordings and suggested listening.

Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Formed in 1965 as a musicians cooperative, the AACM promotes "Great Black Music." The AACM has continuously achieved international recognition for its contributions in modern music, and the site provides images and sound files for many members of the group.

National Association of Negro Musicians

Founded in Chicago in 1919, the NAMN is "the oldest organization dedicated to the preservation, encouragement and advocacy of all genres of the music of African-Americans in the world." Marian Anderson was their first scholarship recipient. Membership information, plus some biographical information, can be found here.

Opera Ebony

"Opera Ebony is considered one of the world's great cultural treasures. Benjamin Matthews, Sister Mary Elise S.B.S. and Wayne Sanders founded Opera Ebony in 1973. Since then, the company has served as a professional platform for thousands of American artists, administrators and technical staff helping them to refine their talent and perfect their craft. "

Websites: Individuals

An Interview with Grace Bumbry

Transcript of the interview reflecting on her career, conducted in 1997 after her final performance in Lyons, France.
Grace Bumbry at Amazon (CDs, books and more.)

Barbara Hendricks

Home of the Barbara Hendricks International Fan Club, this site keeps tabs on her many activities and recordings.
Barbara Hendricks at

Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman was a 1997 Kennedy Center Honoree, "recognizing the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our Nations most prestigious artists." This link provides her biography.
Jessye Norman at

Leontyne Price

This biographical web site was prepared by The Mississippi Writers And Musicians Project of Starkville High School
Leontyne Price at

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song

This outstanding online exhibition includes biographical information, historical background, photos, sound clips, a discography and more.
Marian Anderson music and books at (Since this is a common name, you'll find some unrelated material, but it's mostly OUR Marian Anderson!)

Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration

An extensive collection of resources for studying the life and music of Paul Robeson.
Robeson CDs, books, posters, videos and more at

Shirley Verrett Homepage

Biography, timeline, discography and some wonderful photos.
Shirley Verrett books and music at

Simon Estes Educational Foundation

Biographical information about the renowned bass-baritone, and news of his foundation which supports higher educational opportunities in Oklahoma.
Simon Estes at

William Grant Still - Still Going On

Still (1895 - 1978) is considered the "Dean of Afro-American Composers." This site provides historical information and discography, plus links to related collections at the Duke archives. You can listen to music by Still and others at, which carries the CD collection Piano Music by Still and other Black Composers.

William Grant Still Music & The Master Player Library

Dedicated to preserving and promoting the achievments of Afro-American composer and conductor, William Grant Still as well as those of minority and women composers. An extensive selection of books, recordings, and other educational materials, including a large catalog of sheet music by William Grant Still and other minority composers.




Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History, 3rd edition. New York: W.W. North, 1997. Read More at (High School - Adult)

First written in 1971 and now in it's 3rd edition, this is a wonderful, readable textbook on all aspects of African American music.

Hine, Darlene Clark and Kathleen Thompson. Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America, Volume V: Music. New York: Facts on File, 1997. (Middle School - Adult.) Read more at


CDs & Tapes

You'll find an extensive listing of recordings of works by classical composers on a separate page. However, I feel every library must have at least this introductory series:

African Heritage Symphonic Series - Volume 1. Cedille Records, 2000. Program notes enclosed. Chicago Sinfonietta with Paul Freeman, Conductor. Available at

Works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), Fela Sowande (1905-1987) and William Grant Still (1895-1978). Best known for his serious choral masterpiece, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, Afro-British composer Coleridge-Taylor is represented by two works in a lighter vein, "Danse Negre" from African Suite (1898) and the balletic Petite Suite de Concert, Op 77 (1910). Nigerian Fela Sowande's African Suite from 1930 incorporates traditional Nigerian melodies and the influence of Ghanian composer Ephiraim Amu. William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1, "Afro-American," (1930) evolved from blues-based sketches he wrote during the Harlem Renaissance while arranging for jazz ensembles. Conducter Paul Freeman, who worked directly with Still on performances of this and other works, provides a sultry, swinging interpretation several minutes faster than competing CD versions. The program notes, written in an engaging style by Dominique-Rene de Lerma, provide a thorough introduction to the work of all three composers.

African Heritage Symphonic Series - Volume II. Cedille Records, 2001. Program notes enclosed. Chicago Sinfonietta with Paul Freeman, Conductor. Read more or listen at

Devoted to twentieth-century composers of African descent. Ulysses Kay's (1917-1995) orchestral suite"Theater Set" incorporates march-like rhythms and starts things off with a bang. "Lyric for Strings" by George Walker (b. 1922) is a tender work, a fitting memorial to his grandmother. With "Eight Miniatures for Small Orchestra" Roque Cordero (b. 1917) synthesizes the 12-tone technique with the folk music of his native Panama. Hale Smith's (b. 1925) symphonic poem "Ritual and Incantations" uses idealized African drumming to create a stunning piece full of mystery and sinister undercurrents. Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941) contributes two pieces: the exhuberant, jazz influenced "An American Port of Call " and the moving, transcendent "Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed," a memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. The program notes, written in an engaging style by Dominique-Rene de Lerma, provide a thorough introduction to the work of all five composers.

African Heritage Symphonic Series - Volume III. Cedille Records, 2002. Program notes enclosed. Chicago Sinfonietta with Paul Freeman, Conductor. Read more or listen at

Four works by living composers working in the mainstream of contemporary music. Michael Abels (b.1962) wrote "Global Warming" in 1990, not long after the Berlin Wall fell. It reflects both environmental and international warming, incorporating folk music from various cultures. David Baker's (b. 1931) "Cello Concerto" is lyrical and jazz influenced. (Also found on PAUL FREEMAN INTRODUCES CONCERTOS, Albany.) "Essay for Orchestra" by William Banfield (b. 1961) is from a larger work for percussion and orchestra, a blend of jazz influences and 19th Century Romanticism. The structure of "Generations: Sinfonietta No. 2 for Strings" by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (b. 1932) is "somewhat autobiograhpical" representing the composer's family relationships. It combines folk melodies, dances, and the B-A-C-H idea in what David Hurwitz called "a Bartókian synthesis." The program notes, written in an engaging style by Dominique-Rene de Lerma, provide a thorough introduction to the work of all four composers.




I'll Make Me A World. Executive Producer Henry Hampton. 6 Videocassettes, 60 minutes each. PBS Video, 1999.

Profiles African American musicians, artists and authors throughout twentieth century America. Each segment is 60 minutes.Out of print, but widely available in library collections.

Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory. Producer/Director, Liewellyn Smith. Videocassette. PBS Home Video, 2000. 60 minutes. Amazon .com
Program Information at PBS
Teacher's Guide at PBS

"In the chaotic decade following the Civil War, a group of young ex-slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, set out on a mission to save their financially troubled school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery."

Aida's Brothers and Sisters: Black Voices in Opera. Kultar, 2000. Amazon .com
PBS website with related resources

A fascinating look at the history and present situation of African-American opera singers in America. Combines rare and contemporary footage of some of the greatest performers of the century and includes interview with many notable black singers, as well as musicologists, directors and historians.

Three Mo' Tenors BMG/RCA 2001. Available at in VHS and DVD (You can also purchase the audio CD at

"Since their debut in the summer of 2000, Victor Trent Cook, Thomas Young, and Rodrick Dixon -- otherwise known as Three Mo' Tenors -- have been thrilling audiences with their dynamic performances encompassing a wide spectrum of musical genres. From Verdi and Puccini through gospel and traditional spirituals to Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington , and Broadway, these three virtuosos pay tribute to the incredible versatility of African-American operatic tenors that is all too infrequently showcased on the conventional stage."

Sheet Music Digital sheet music on demand! A wide library to select from, with adjustable keys. For example, Select from 17 versions of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and Download a DIGITAL VERSION instantly.

GIA Publications - African American Church Music Series (Books, Hymnals, CDs, Sheet Music and more!)

In 2000, GIA Publications named Dr. James Abbington as Executive Editor of a new publishing venture, The African American Church Music Series. GIA had just published the African American Heritage Hymnal and intended to begin publishing a series of choral music by America's leading African American composers and arangers. The series now boasts over 150 titles already published or in the process. CDs have been produced to introduce music from both the Series and the Hymnal, usually featuring choirs from Morgan State University conducted by Dr. Abbington.

Stop By, Lord James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2004. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music (I haven't heard this one)

"This special packet includes a copy of each of fourteen pieces from this series, plus a complete compact disc recording! Performed by a special New York City recording choir under the direction of Dr. James Abbington, with Joseph Joubert, piano, and a compliment of other fine instrumentalists."

Guide My Feet. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2003. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music

Fourteen selections from the African American Church Music Series. This diverse collection - from arranged spirituals to contemporary gospel - would make an excellent choral program. Most of the scores are for SATB and piano. The CD is invaluable because (besides being a joy to listen to ) it demonstrates descants and other improvisations which are not scored. For me, a stand-out piece in this collection is the medley arranged by Joseph Joubert, "The Precious Blood of Jesus." If this closed a choral program, there would not be a dry eye in the house!

How Excellent is Thy Name. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2005. Order the CD at or CD and Scores GIA Music

The singers on this recording are graduates or current students of Morgan State University, conducted by Dr. James Abbington (who also serves as Executive Editor of the series.) The selections include arrangements of spirituals ("Hold On" arr. by Uzee Brown Jr.) and early gospel songs (Lucie Campbell's "Something Within" arranged by Nathan Carter) as well as contemporary works written specifically for choruses. My favorite piece - which would be perfect for commencement ceremonies - is "May the Work I've Done Speak for Me" by Sullivan Pugh, arranged by Colin Lett. This work certainly speaks for GIA's commitment to African American churches.

Beams of Heaven. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2006. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music

Every time I think this series couldn't possibly get any better, it does. The selections include psalm-based hymn arrangements, spirituals and gospels, and composers/arrangers were asked to submit pieces which could be used in worship not only by the choir but also the congregation. A wonderful discovery are the works of Bishop Charles Price Jones (1865-1949) a contemporary of Reverend Tindley who wrote over one thousand gospel songs. His hymn I Will Make the Darkness Light is presented in three distinct styles: first sung as written, then as a solo made popular by Sarah Jordan Powell, and finally as the gospel or "saints" version.

As always, variety is key. The title work, Beams of Heaven (composed by Charles A. Tindley, arranged by Robert E. Wooten Sr.) will joyously sweep you off your feet, while I Must Tell Jesus (Elisha A. Hoffman, arranged by Mattie L. Robertson) invites quiet contemplation. Though intended as an instructional resource, this CD - with the usual unparalleled performances of graduates and current Morgan State University students - makes for compelling listening. In the month since I received it, I don't think a day has passed when I haven't listened to several tracks. Highly recommended!

Use Me. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2008. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music

This is the fifth CD produced by GIA in a line of excellent recordings that contain many of the printed pieces from the African American Church Music Series. Featuring 17 pieces, the collection is diverse, compelling, and accessible to most church and community choirs. As usual, Abbington masterfully mixes the old with the new, and everything in between. You'll find settings of Negro spirituals like "I Know I Got Religion," "Done Made My Vow" and Uzee Brown's "Deep River." My favorite is Joseph Joubert's stunning arrangement of "Ride Up in the Chariot" featuring a solo soprano and a Broadway/gospel style piano. Traditional hand-clapping, foot-stomping gospel is represented in Eddie Robinson's "In The Word" and Frank Davis' " Savior, Lead Me." On the quieter side is the lovely contemporary Christmas lullaby "He Sleeps" by Charles Garner. The late Dr. Nathan Mitchell Carter Jr. (1936-2004), who led the Morgan State University Choir in performances all over the world while building it into one of the premier vocal groups in the nation, is remembered in his arrangements of "Precious Lord" and "I Know I Got Religion." Highly Recommended, whether you lead a choir or just cherish "joyful noise."