It’s hard to believe that it’s already been more than two weeks since the official book launch for So You Want to Sing Spirituals.
The timing was not ideal because the launch was scheduled for only three days after Christmas. This meant that college classes were not in session, and most of the book’s primary audience–voice students and instructors–would not be in the area to attend. However, I decided to hold it in the Washington, DC, area because I really wanted family members and friends who lived in the area to be able to come. The launch date, December 28th, also marked the 10-year anniversary of my father’s death, and I saw that coincidence as the latest bit of serendipity that has been an ongoing part of the book’s development.
I was fortunate that the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA) and the Harmony Hallers served as co-sponsors of the event, and I couldn’t believe my very good fortune that pianist Frank Conlon was available to perform with me on the songs I’d wanted to sing at the beginning of the program. Frank and I haven’t worked together in years, but it didn’t take long to get in sync again.
My three siblings who live in the DMV were able to attend, and boy, did they step up as far as getting things done, from securing the hall for the program, to resolving computer technical issues and book table management, to photography and videography of the program. I can’t tell them how much I appreciate all they did and have always done to support the cause.
On top of that, half of my audience consisted of family and friends. So, instead of presenting the narrative text I’d written to accompany the presentation I created, I decided to just talk. From the very positive comments I got afterwards, this was apparently a good decision.
The presentation focused on first, of course, introducing So You Want to Sing Spirituals and talking about what I and the book contributors hope to accomplish with it. But I also wanted to talk about the wide range of concert spiritual song literature that vocalists have to choose from, including “rare gems,” beautiful settings that have received limited attention thus far. I performed four “rare gems” with Frank and shared several recordings by pioneers of the concert spiritual.
Below are a few of the pictures from the launch:
The video from the launch is below:
I must admit here that my eldest sister was correct when she said that the 25 books I brought for the launch would not be enough. We sold them all and had to give the equivalent of IOUs for autographed copies to some folks, which I was able to send out to them once I got back home.
Overall, I was extremely happy with the official launch. Now, I can turn my attention to other upcoming activities.
My thanks to everyone who attended and who purchased the book.