My research efforts involve undergraduate and graduate student researchers in identifying, preserving and performing concert adaptations of the underexplored folk songs that originated with the African slaves who were dispersed throughout the United States in the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My latest project involved a Cultural Exploration Lecture-Recital Series which was presented at six universities located in Mississippi and Louisiana. The project explores the Afro-Creole folk song of Louisiana which developed under the same conditions on the Louisiana plantations of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, unlike the Negro spiritual, has barely survived and is not explored widely. I argue that these little-known songs, infused with African, French and Spanish elements, reveal a more diverse approach to the ethnomusicological heritage of the African experience in the New World. And, that these works should be preserved and continue to be performed, in that rarefied, intensely Eurocentric environment of the song recital. Further, a larger audience can be reached by promoting new compositions drawn from this historically overlooked area of Afro-American cultural life and history. I hope that my work will help reveal that there are accessible arrangements of the Afro-Creole folk song of Louisiana that are worthy repertoire choices for reputable concert artists.
Center for Undergraduate Research Project: Jackson State University. The William Brown Collection: The Importance of Cataloguing and Preserving the Rare Scores and Recordings of African-American Composers of Art Music.
“Preserving the Non-Spiritual or Secular African-American Art Song.”
“The Infusion and Relevance of African-American Elements in the Art Songs and Operas of African- American Composers.”
“Beyond the Spiritual: Highlighting the Art Songs of Select Twentieth Century African-American Women Composers.”
“The History of the Opera/South Company of Jackson, Mississippi and Its Relevance and Importance to the Cultural Enrichment of the Surrounding Communities in the Twenty-first Century.”