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Building a Vocal Community:
Singing in the African American Tradition
There is an awesome power in the human voice and when uncommon voices blend for the common good, they become a ‘vocal community’ at its best.
This class makes use of the oral tradition, singing rhythms, chants, and traditional songs of the African and African-American culture to explore the values imbedded in the music, the role of cultural and spiritual traditions and rituals, and the significance of a shared communal experience in ones’ personal life.
Ysaye M. Barnwell is a musician, actress, writer, educator, and a former member of the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey in the Rock with whom she performed for nearly 35 years appearing on about 30 recordings. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition” has been conducted on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration, a model of pedagogy for educators, cultural activists, and historians.
Ysaye has been in demand as a commissioned composer on numerous choral, film, video, dance, and theatrical projects, including Sesame Street, Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh, David Rousseve’s Reality Dance Company, etc. Her music has been performed and recorded by numerous choral ensembles and individual artists as well as Sweet Honey in the Rock. In addition to these endeavors, Ysaye is an actress whose credits include voice-over narration for film, video, and radio productions, as well as the writer of two children’s books.