La Maison d'Art is honored to host a very special evening of Improvisations & Impressions of the Slave Songs by James Weidman and the Spiritual Impressions Ensemble.
James Weidman- piano, Ruth Naomi Floyd- vocals, Anthony Nelson- reeds, Harvie S - Bass, Steve Williams- Drums
The Slave Songs or Spirituals were a genre of music created by enslaved Black people during the turbulent period of the 19th century. This poignant music was both an expression of devotion to their God and an expressed longing for freedom from the state of bondage. These two concepts were not mutually exclusive. Just as in the scriptures, where God delivered the Israelites from Egypt-land and Daniel from the lion's den, surely this same God would deliver every man, woman and child from the inhuman servitude that existed in the south.
The Spirituals is music whose tones and rhythms range from the jubilant to the mournful from song to song. In the 20th century Black church, these songs were often included as part of devotional services that preceded the actual Sunday Service. They were often sung during communion and baptisms.
They were sung by choirs in arrangements by Black composers trained in the European classical music tradition. The musical testaments that evoke from these collections of songs serve as windows of not just an exclusive history of African-Americans but indeed, part of the shared history of all Americans.