Highlights from the Ethnomusicology Archive: African American Music

June is African American Music Appreciation Month.  As the Presidential Proclamation explains in part: 

Our country is home to a proud legacy of African-American musicians whose songs transcend genre. They make us move, make us think, and make us feel the full range of emotion -- from the pain of isolation to the power of human connection. During African-American Music Appreciation Month, we celebrate artists whose works both tell and shape our Nation's story ... The influence of African-American artists resounds each day through symphony halls, church sanctuaries, music studios, and vast arenas. It fills us with inspiration and calls us to action. This month, as we honor the history of African-American music, let it continue to give us hope and carry us forward -- as one people and one Nation.

[image above: Reverend James Cleveland at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Calif., 1977,  UCLA Digital Library, Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive]

In celebration of African American Music Month, we are thrilled to announce that additional recordings from our collections have been accepted into the California Audiovisual Preservation Project (CAVPP)

CAVPP is a partnership of 75 libraries, archives and museums developing a new research resource: an online database of film, video and audio recordings documenting California history.  The database provides "glimpses and whispers" of California's rich audiovisual heritage with the implication that there is much more to be mined and discovered.  The project takes a sampling of media from diverse institutions, digitizes them, and makes them freely accessible through the California Light and Sound Collection on the Internet Archive.

This is a brief listing of the African American music materials that were accepted into CAVPP.

  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Margie Evans (1995)
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by John and Vermya Phillips
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Clora Bryant
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Patrice Rushen
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Clora Bryant (1993)
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Albert Goodson
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Bette Cox
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Isaiah Jones
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by DeWayne Knox
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Gwendolyn Cooper Lightner
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Vi Redd
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Dwight Dickerson and Nedra Wheeler
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Rev. Eugene D. Smallwood
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Don Lee White
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Prof. Albert McNeil
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Margie Evans
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Rev. Eugene D. Smallwood (1992)
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Margaret Pleasant Douroux
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Clora Bryant (1999)
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Margaret Pleasant Douroux (1997)
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Brenda Holloway
  • Jazz in Los Angeles, lecture by Billy Childs
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by "Big Jay" McNeely
  • Music in Urban Environments: A One-Day Interdisciplinary Conference
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Dave Weston
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Rodena Preston
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Vi Redd
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Patrice Rushen (1998)
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Nedra Wheeler
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Nedra Wheeler (1998)
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by J. Harrison Wilson
  • Jazz in Los Angeles, lecture by Gerald Wilson (1992)
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Gerald Wilson
  • Jazz in Los Angeles, lecture by Bobby Bradford
  • Dizzy Gillespie, UCLA Regents' Lecturer, March 1989
  • Spring Concert Festival 1997: Strings and Soul: A Meeting of World Masters
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by James Newton
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Eddie Meadows
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by James Roberson
  • Festival of African American Music Roundtable: Los Angeles Music Scene
  • Spirituals in Los Angeles, lecture by Prof. Albert McNeil (2012)
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Medusa MonĂ© Smith
  • Gospel in Los Angeles, lecture by Calvin B. Rhone
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Evelyn Freeman Roberts
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Lesa Terry
  • Music of African Americans in California, lecture by Karen Briggs

In addition to these recordings, I thought I would highlight some of the other African American music collections in the Archive.

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, Professor Emeritus, past Chair of the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology and past Director of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, has deposited two African American music collections in the Archive.

Collection 2013.03 - United States, Georgia, gospel music, 1971.  This collection consists of 18 sound tape reels.  They were recorded by DjeDje in Georgia, California, and Florida in  l971.  Parts of the collection are described in her M.A. Thesis: "An analytical study of the similarities and differences in the American Black spiritual and gospel songs from the southeast region of Georgia," 1972.  Portions of these recordings were commercially released as Black American Religious Music from Southeast Georgia. Folkways Records FS 34010 (1983).  To listen via Smithsonian Global Sounds, click here

Collection 2012.09 - United States, California, Los Angeles, gospel music, 1981-1983.  This collection consists of 38 sound cassettes.  They were recorded by DjeDje in Los Angeles, California, 1981-1983.  The recordings include interviews with musicians, pastors, and members of several black Catholic churches in the Los Angeles area.  The collection also includes copies of newspaper clippings, journal articles, workshop reports, etc. on black Catholic liturgy and music written by clergy and lay members of the Catholic Church as well as music scholars; many of the print materials were provided by the National Office for Black Catholics.  Publications based on these recordings include: "An Expression of Black Identity: The Use of Gospel Music in a Los Angeles Catholic Church," Western Journal of Black Studies, v. 7, no. 3 (Fall 1982): 148-160 and "The Adoption of Black American Gospel Music in the Catholic Church," 1986, Ethnomusicology 30, no. 2 (Spring - Summer): 223-252.

Professor DjeDje was also the inspiration behind Collection 2004.06, Gospel Archiving in Los Angeles (GALA)GALA was a yearlong archiving and documentation project carried out by the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive and Heritage Music Foundation.  Support for the project was provided by a UCLA in LA grant from the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships. GALA began in July 2004 and ended in June 2005.  In addition to doing new fieldwork documenting Gospel music in Los Angeles, the Archive took part in a community-based Gospel festival and increased access to Gospel materials already owned by the Archive.  The GALA finding aid on the Online Archive of California (OAC), is hereBirgitta J. Johnson was the (then) research assistant who was the project's fieldwork manager.  You can read about her experience with and thoughts about GALA in "Gospel Archiving in Los Angeles: A Case of Proactive Archiving and Empowering Collaborations," 2012, Ethnomusicology Forum 21, no. 2 (August): 221-242.

You can also read more about GALA in UCLA Magazine:  "The Gospel According to Los Angeles" and "UCLA Takes Lead in Preserving Gospel Music."

Margaret Douroux's "He Covered Me"

The Archive also holds additional Gospel music collections, including that of John and Vermya PhillipsJohn Phillips hosted a gospel radio program that aired on KTYM 1460 AM radio in Inglewood, California. The Phillips were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 21, 2000 in Detroit, Michigan.  John was inducted into the Broadcaster's Hall of Fame on November 4, 2007 in Akron, Ohio.

Vermya Phillips and The Dave Weston Singers "If Jesus Goes with Me"

The Archive holds many other African American music collections, including some previously highlighted in this column, such as the Bette Cox Collection.  If you are interested in African American music, please search the Archive Catalog or come by the Archive and speak to one of the archivists.

Jester Hairston "Amen"

 

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