Eva Jessye’s Spirituals: African American Religion, Music, and Cultures in Motion

Lecture Description

This presentation focuses on the career of choral conductor and arranger Eva Jessye, who served as the musical director for the 1929 MGM film “Hallelujah”, and whose choir appeared in the original Broadway production of Porgy and Bess and the Virgil Tompson and Gertrude Stein opera, Four Saints in Three Acts. The talk considers the interplay of African American religious traditions, black folk music, and European classical literature and music in her work as a means to consider broader questions about the politics of African American religious cultures. I discuss her oratorios, including The Life of Christ in Negro Spirituals (1932) and The Story of Job (1936), and her major work Paradise Lost and Regained: A Folk Oratorio (1930s).


African American Music

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