NPR logo Three Selections from T.J. Anderson's 'Spirituals'

Three Selections from T.J. Anderson's 'Spirituals'

Hear Three Selections from 'Spirituals'

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Members of the glee clubs of Spelman and Morehouse colleges perform. Philip McCollum hide caption

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Philip McCollum

Members of the glee clubs of Spelman and Morehouse colleges perform.

Philip McCollum

The Morehouse College Glee Club... the official singing organization of Morehouse College. Its members come from all the school's disciplines and from homes encompassing the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. Past editions of the Glee Club performed at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter and sang in the East Room of the White House for Coretta Scott King. Dr. David Morrow became the ensemble's director in 1987. The club has sung in each of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's concerts observing the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.


The Spelman College Glee Club... open by audition to all students at the esteemed college for women of color. Its repertoire places special emphasis on traditional spirituals and music by African-American composers. The Glee Club has performed in such venues as Boston's Fanueil Hall, the Academy of Music in New York and Avery Fisher Hall at New York's Lincoln Center, and on trips to Brazil and Canada. Dr. Kevin Johnson is the director. The Glee Club frequently appears with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, including most of the King Day musical tributes.

Composer T. J. Anderson completed his choral work Spirituals in 1979. The glee clubs of Spelman and Morehouse colleges perform three selections from that work: "Keep Me from Sinkin' Down," "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray" and "This Little Light of Mine."

In 1982, Robert Shaw conducted the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the first performance at the dedication of Freedom Hall at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change. For that event, T.J. Anderson wrote:

"All artistic works put together both the spiritual and psychological temper of a historical time and place. Spirituals is a composition which exemplifies this concept. The work is influenced by the music of Henry Purcell, Negro spirituals which I learned from Wendell Whalum, jazz, contemporary styles, and the trumpet of Gabriel... The total work moves in a constant search for an adjustable reality and is a reflection of our fragmented society.

"The six main movements of Spirituals set poetry selected from Robert Hayden's collection Angle of Ascent, using the full performing forces. Interspersed among them are several traditional spirituals set for chorus and orchestra, providing moments of calm and solace between the more violent and emotional stages along the road of discovery."

All text courtesy program notes for 'A King Celebration' from the Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Ga.

From 'Spirituals'