Synopses & Reviews
How do you survive leaving everything you know to try to reconstruct your life and future in a new way? What do you carry with you on your journey to the new place? Migration looms large as a theme in twentieth-century African American life. Bernice Johnson Reagon uses this theme as a centering structure for four essays that examine different genres of African American sacred music as they manifested themselves throughout the twentieth century and within her own life. The first essay examines the evolution of gospel music by looking at the work of Charles Albert Tindley, Thomas Andrew Dorsey, Reverend Smallwood Williams, Roberta Martin, Pearl William Jones, and Richard Smallwood. In the next essay Reagon relates the story of Deacon William Reardon and the prayer bands that carried the tradition of South Carolina spirituals through the twentieth century in the communities of Washington DC, and Baltimore. The concert spiritual tradition is the subject of the third essay, and the final essay explores how stories about African American women of the nineteenth century became a source of strength for Reagon in her development as an African American woman, singer, fighter, and scholar.
About the Author
Bernice Johnson Reagon is the dynamic founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock, a Grammy Award-winning African American female a cappella ensemble. She is Distinguished Professor of History at American University and curator emeritus at the National Museum of American History, and she has worked at the Smithsonian Institution for many years. She is the editor of We'll Understand It Better By and By: Pioneering African American Gospel Composers and other works.