Growing up in a Baptist church in Memphis, TN, hearing an African American spiritual during Sunday morning service was a normal occurrence for me. My pastor, the late Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, storied civil rights activist and former executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, always seemed to have a little extra zest in his sermon after the choir delivered a rousing spiritual performance.
Hands were flying in the air, Amens were being hurled out of hundreds of mouths, and the electric energy flowing through the sanctuary was exhilarating. Those moments during my childhood helped inspire a lifelong respect and admiration of the spiritual.
Somebody that shares a similar love of the African American spiritual is Philip Brunelle, the founder and artistic director of VocalEssence. Over 25 years ago, VocalEssence started the WITNESS Concert Series on the performance and preservation of black music and art. Brunelle said, "I find spirituals to be positive. The songs may express a sad thought, but at the end of the day, the overall message is positive; the sight is heaven. They know that things will eventually work out for them."
If you are interested in learning about Phillip Brunelle's Top 3 spirituals in this week's episode of Sing to Inspire, click the audio player above.
#SingToInspire Performance of the Week
My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord - arr. Moses Hogan
Moses Hogan Chorale, performer
Moses Hogan, conductor
#SingToInspire Picture of the Week