Wade in the Water Celebrates its 25th Anniversary Wade In The Water celebrates the impact of spiritual and gospel music in America. The 26-episode series is out of the archives and now available to the public for the first time since the 1990's.
NPR logo Wade in the Water Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

Wade in the Water Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

June 20th, 2019 Washington, D.C.- Wade in the Water celebrates the sacred music traditions of African American culture in a 26-part audio series created and hosted by Bernice Johnson Reagon, composer, scholar, and social activist. Wade in the Water is being re-released today on NPR One and originally aired in 1994 as a first-time partnership between NPR and the Smithsonian Institution.

Wade in the Water is a 26-part documentary series that details the history of African Americans through song and music, storytelling and historical analysis. NPR hide caption

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Wade in the Water is a 26-part documentary series that details the history of African Americans through song and music, storytelling and historical analysis.

NPR

Listen to Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions, re-released during its 25th anniversary year and available on NPR One.

The Peabody Award winning series documents the history and impact of Black American music through sacred song, storytelling, and historical analysis. In Wade's first episode, host Bernice Johnson Reagon noted that for African Americans, sacred music and "church was like food, nourishment for the spirit or the soul."

Through archival and live performances recorded just for the series, Wade in the Water preserves the art, wisdom, and faith of a people whose musical traditions, including spirituals, lined hymns, quartets, and gospels. In addition, the series features interviews with musical icons Jessye Norman, Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Walter and Edwin Hawkins, Pop and Mavis Staples, and Marvin and CeCe Winans. Noted scholars Portia Maultsby, Sterling Stuckey, Vincent Harding, Horace Clarence Boyer and others provided historical analysis, while African American worshippers and music lovers throughout America offered their insights.

NPR is committed to diverse programming and preserving the rich power of storytelling for future generations. The re-release of Wade in the Water honors the legacy of the African-American sacred music traditions over a 200-year period.

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