Inaugural newsletter for the Music and the Black Church Program

November 14, 2022

The Institute of Sacred Music is delighted to announce the inaugural e-newsletter for the Music and the Black Church program. Appearing three times a year, it will share program and event highlights that bring together scholars, practitioners, and students of Black sacred music at Yale. It will also share the stories of musicians who embody the best of Black sacred music, offer reflections on the Black gospel tradition, and detail the curricular and co-curricular engagements that are being offered for both undergraduate and graduate students. Subscribe here.

The Music and the Black Church program aims to 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. At the launch event in November, 2021, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes joined Professor Braxton Shelley, the program’s director, for an event called “Devotion: Meditating on the Black Gospel Tradition”, several highlights of which are featured in this edition of the newsletter. Discussions were punctuated with 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 the inaugural event, the program convened 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.” On November 17, “A Celebration of Gospel” is planned with gospel musicians Donald Lawrence and Vincent Bohanan, along with a masterclass with Donald Lawrence on November 16. Plans for the 2022-23 school year will be shared in upcoming newsletters.

For more information, please contact program director, Professor Braxton Shelley.