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MP3 The Jubilee Trio - Let's Have a Union

Songs of struggle and resolution: The Jubilee Trio perform songs and spirituals along with complementary solo piano music written and arranged by American composers.

19 MP3 Songs in this album (56:16) !
Related styles: CLASSICAL: Vocal Music, SPIRITUAL: Traditional Gospel

For many years, the three of us who call ourselves The Jubilee Trio have created and performed programs of songs and spirituals along with complementary solo piano music written and arranged by American composers. Our interest has always been to explore the music of African-American composers within the broad context of American music of the 19th century to the present day. It is with great pleasure that we have compiled a recording of some of our favorites.

In the 19th century there were already a number of highly successful black composers in Europe. Joseph Boulogne, Joseph Nunes Garcia, Jose White, and Samuel Coleridge Taylor all saw their compositions regularly performed. In America it was a very different story. African-Americans were for the most part blocked from the education necessary to become highly trained musicians and composers.

New Orleans, as early as the 1830s, was an international music center, boasting a great opera house and a vibrant cultural community. Europeans flocked there to make music and to teach. The Europeans, unlike their American counterparts, happily accepted black musicians as pupils both in New Orleans, and if they could afford it, in Europe. This gave African-American composers and musicians a way to study their craft and ultimately to bring it back to the United States.

In the mid 1890s, composer Harry Burleigh began composition studies with Czech composer, Antonín Dvorák, in New York. Dvorák was devoted to exploring Bohemian folk music in his composition. Burleigh introduced him to African-American spirituals (which Dvorák used in the New World Symphony) and he, in turn, encouraged Burleigh to compose his settings for spirituals which are now a part of the canon of American song literature.

In the early 20th century, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, the most successful black composer in Europe, visited the United States. He wanted to do for the folk music of the African Diaspora what Brahms had done for Hungarian music and Dvorák for Bohemian. His influence on African-American composers of the early 20th century was profound as he encouraged them to explore the music of their roots and to transform it through their creative abilities.

Dvorák encouraged all American composers to look to American folk music and “Negro melodies,” in particular, for inspiration and source material. Many of the songs and piano pieces on this recording, written by African-American men and women as well as by Caucasian men and women, are the fruits of those explorations. We present them to you with gratitude to those long gone, out of whose collective lives the folk music arose, and to the composers who heard the greatness of that music and transformed it into something new.

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