Classical music, and in fact American history is incomplete without understanding the story that spirituals tell, or hearing their melodies that can wrench the heart, elevate the soul and stick in the memory.
This month, CPR Classical launches a yearlong exploration into these deeply moving works. M. Roger Holland II will collaborate with us, as he did over the holidays. Holland is Teaching Assistant Professor of African American Music and Theology at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, and Director of DU’s Spirituals Project Choir. We’re calling this joint venture Journey to Freedom: The Spirituals Radio Project.
Across the year on CPR Classical, you’ll hear many beloved spirituals like Deep River, Go Down Moses, Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. For Roger’s part, he will choose a dozen spirituals for CPR Classical - one each month - that illuminate the African American cultural narrative. Most of his selections may be songs you’ve never heard.
The origin of spirituals takes us back centuries, to those who were brought here on ships from Africa in chains and those born of slavery. Much of this music was miraculously documented, and eventually found its way into the fabric of America’s cultural and social DNA.
Professor Holland begins the series with the spiritual, “Lord, How Come Me Here?”
Listen to Holland’s monthly musical selections and commentary throughout the year on CPR Classical, including Sunday mornings on our choral music show Sing!, hosted by David Ginder.
Hear CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” at the top on this website. You can also hear CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado, or ask your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical.”