Tuesday, June 08, 2010

We Shall Overcome

I followed a link from Balloon Juice over to a post by Roger Ebert about race in America. The thing that got Ebert writing was the reaction of whites in Prescott, Arizona to a mural outside a school that reflected the diversity of the students in the school. Ebert writes great stuff; I recommend the post at the link and his site in general.

At the end of his post, Ebert embedded this video of the Morehouse College Mens’ Chorus singing “We Shall Overcome.”

It’s beautiful and stirring; it’s also gospel music rendered in a very “classical” style. The first time I ever heard a choir from a “traditionally black college” in concert, I was struck by the fact that it did all the music, including gospel music and spirituals, in the same classical way.

I asked a choir director friend of mine (yes, the dog can, or maybe could, sing) who was from the south about that. He said he thought it was because black choirs did not want be stereotyped as just “black choirs.” That’s rather sad when you consider it for a moment.

It is also hugely ironic. The number of Lutheran (or other mainline white Protestant) church choirs that struggle — very often unsuccessfully — to sing spirituals authentically is as countless as the stars.

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