Rare Gems Documentary

Last December, I wrote a presentation for the launch of my book, “So You Want to Sing Spirituals.” As it worked out, I decided to just talk about the slides since I knew most of the attendees were family or friends who would more than likely enjoy the informal approach.

A few days ago, I accidentally pulled up the original text of the presentation and decided to create the video linked below. The 33-minute documentary, called Rare Gems by the Pioneers of the Concert Spiritual, is about concert spirituals categorized by song theme, from sorrow songs to songs of transcendence. Each category is followed by a rare, full-length recording of concert spirituals performed. The recordings are:

  • “I Cannot Stay Here by Myself” (Hall Johnson, composer; A. Grace Lee Mims, soprano)
  • “Who’ll Be a Witness for My Lord” (John Rosamond Johnson, composer; Kenneth Spencer, baritone)
  • “Steal Away” (Harry T. Burleigh, composer; Martina Arroyo, soprano)
  • “Goin’ to Shout All over God’s Heaven” (Clarence Cameron White, composer; Jules Bledsoe, bass)
  • “Oh, Didn’t It Rain” (Ruby Elzy, soprano)
  • “Every Time I Feel de Spirit” (Lawrence Brown, composer; Evelyn Dove, soprano) –
  • “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” (Florence Price, composer; Marian Anderson, contralto)
  • “Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees” (Adele Addison, soprano; Fisk Jubilee Singers)

I’m the documentary’s producer, director, screenwriter, and narrator, and the video compilations were compiled under my pseudonym, Divaslair.

Please share your comments. Hope you enjoy the video.

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