Music and the Black Church
Interdisciplinary Program in Music and the Black Church
Greetings! Thank you for taking the time to read about ISM’s Interdisciplinary Program in Music and the Black Church, which sponsors programming and events that bring together scholars, practitioners, and students of Black sacred music on the campus of Yale University. The goal of this initiative is to organize and expand the scholarly attention paid to the music of the Black Church and to this tradition’s extraordinary influence on a host of musical cultures—confessional and commercial, American and global.
We launched this program in November, 2021, when Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes joined me in conversation in the Divinity School’s Marquand Chapel for an event we called “Devotion: Meditating on the Black Gospel Tradition.” That evening’s discussion was punctuated by performances by four extraordinary instrumentalists: Pamela Jean Davis, Dr. Melanie Hill, Derrick Jackson, and Joey Woolfalk, who rendered canonical gospel selections on piano, violin, Hammond organ, and guitar, respectively. Following that inaugural event, we organized a workshop featuring fifteen music ministry leaders from across the country, hosted a residency with gospel composer Kurt Carr, and presented “In the Sanctuary: An Inaugural Symposium on Music and the Black Church.” Our plans for the 2022-23 school year are even more ambitious!
The Interdisciplinary Program in Music and the Black Church also publishes an online newsletter three times each year, beginning in November 2022. Subscribe via email here (link sends e-mail). Each issue of this newsletter will reflect on recent programming, detail upcoming events, share the story of one of the musicians who embodies the best of Black sacred music, offer a bit of reflection on the Black gospel tradition, and detail the curricular and co-curricular engagements that are being offered for both undergraduate and graduate students. We hope that all of you will become regular readers of our newsletter. We invite you to visit the program’s website regularly for updates on our sponsored programming and to join us for one or more of our public events. We hope to see you soon!
—Professor Braxton D. Shelley, Program Director
Conferences, symposia, and publications
Gospel Music Database