University of South Carolina

Festival of Spirituals back by popular demand


Contact: Frenche Brewer, brewer4@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3691

The University of South Carolina School of Music, the English Programs for Internationals and the African American Studies Program will present a Festival of Spirituals concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Drayton Hall Theatre, 1214 College Street.

The concert will feature renowned gospel artist and performer Ollie Watts Davis, music professor at the University of Illinois (Urbana Champagne), the USC Gospel Choir, Tina Stallard, USC voice professor, and Men of Praise, an a capella gospel ensemble.

Described as “…a bubbling stream of a voice, remarkably smooth down into a resonant, rich low register,” by the San Francisco Chronicle, “a lovely, warm, admirably focused tone,” by The New York Times, and “…poignant and lovely,” by the Chicago Tribune, Ollie Watts Davis earns superlatives wherever she sings. Since her New York debut at Carnegie Hall in 1990, Davis has appeared in many of the nation’s great concert halls with leading orchestras, including the San Francisco, Minnesota, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Dallas symphony orchestras. Internationally, she has appeared with orchestras in Venezuela, Mexico, and Spain.

Davis, also an actress, has performed with the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Theatre of Springfield and Illinois Opera Theatre. She has been heard on National Public Radio, and has released two CD recordings: as a solo artist performing Negro spirituals and as conductor of the University of Illinois Black Chorus.

The concert, organized by the USC gospel choir class, will include traditional gospel music and a choral arrangement of spirituals.  The class choir will sing and selected student music majors will perform solo arrangements of well-known spirituals.

 “African-American music was rarely art for the sake of art,” Wells said. “If you think about slaves in the field, they weren't just singing, they were singing to make the day go better, for survival. It becomes a way of helping voice what people are experiencing, but it also connects them to a God who helps them in the midst of their struggles.

 “African-American music, more than any other form of music, is a dialogue, not a monologue. The performer sings, but there's an element of participation from the audience."

 The gospel concert is free and open to the public.

Posted: 10/01/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 10/01/12 @ 5:44 PM | Permalink