Ysaye M. Barnwell, a former longtime member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, an a cappella group, is returning to Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church to lead a three-night workshop series: Evolution of African-American Music from Africa to Civil Rights.
The evenings of singing and learning will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 20, 21, and 22 at ORUUC, a press release said. ORUUC is located at 1500 Oak Ridge Turnpike.
Those who attend will experience singing in the African-American tradition of music from Africa to the civil rights era, the press release said. The workshop begins on Thursday, Feb. 20, with the chants of Africa and the diaspora. Spirituals and slave songs will be the focus on Friday, Feb. 21. The series will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 22, with songs of the civil rights era.
“The music selected for each evening will focus on a different aspect of African and African-American history, values, and cultural and vocal traditions to build communities of song among singers and non-singers alike,” said ORUUC Director of Music Wendel Werner. “No experience is necessary; only a love of singing is needed to share in the common experience of learning to sing rhythms, chants, traditional songs from Africa, and of a variety of songs from African-American culture that are taught in the ‘oral’ tradition. Barnwell sings and the group sings back.”
Barnwell is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, and actress. She is a vocalist with a range of more than three octaves and appears on more than 25 recordings with Sweet Honey as well as other artists.
“Barnwell is the most gifted writer … a true original hopefully bound to receive her due as one of America’s finest composers,” said J. Eric Smith of the Record Review Index.
Tickets for adults are $20 per night, $35 for two nights, or $45 for the full series. Students and seniors (age 60 and over) are $12/$25/$35. Call (865) 483-8375 to purchase tickets by phone. Online purchases can be made by going to oruuc.org/events.