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Portraits in Black, Brown, & Beige, Part I Purchase Now 

This two-week celebration, named in honor of Duke Ellington's jazz symphony, will explore 400 years of African-American composers and performers. Starting with Call and Response, and Shouts, from the first Africans to arrive on this continent, Bill will introduce us to art songs, symphonies, and traditional spirituals that have become a large part our American musical identity.

Program 1

Drawing from the book The Music of Black Americans by Eileen Southern, Bill delves into the formative years of African-American music, focusing on the prominence of call and response, percussion and “shouts.”


Trad.: Egwabo/Welcome (Ghana) (excerpts)
Arc 1950
:56, :42

Trad.: “Lord, How Come Me Here?”
Marian Anderson, contralto; Franz Rupp, piano
RCA 61960

Trad: “In that New Jerusalem”
Smithsonian Folkways 2657

Trad.: “I Been in de Storm So Long”
Marian Anderson, contralto
RCA 61960

Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Quartet No. 2 In B Flat Major, I & II
Apollon Quartet
Avenida 276011

Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Adagio fr. Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major
Encore Chamber Orchestra/Hege; Rachel Barton, v.
Cedille 035

Trad.: “Move Daniel” & “Pharaoh’s Host Got Lost”
McIntosh County Singers
Smithsonian Folkways 4344
3:49, 1:38

Trad.: “I Stood on de Ribber ob Jerdon”
Marian Anderson, contralto; Rupp, p.
RCA 61960

Trad.: Deep River
Tuskegee Institute Choir
Westminster 8154

Program 2

We start off by going to church with Leadbelly and Bill discusses the church as patron to black musicians. Then we move on to the elaborate syncopation of Scott Joplin in the era of ragtime.


Trad.: “Every Time I Feel the Spirit”
Leadbelly, voc.
Smithsonian Folkways 40194

Trad./Burleigh: “Go Down Moses”
Harry T. Burleigh, baritone
Arch 1005

Trad.: “Trouble”
Michel Larue, voc
Smithsonian Folkways 05252

Joseph White: Violin Concerto in F-sharp minor
Encore Chamber Orchestra/Hege; Rachel Barton, v.
Cedille 35

Scott Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
Boston Pops Orchestra/Fiedler
Universal Classics B0002916-02

Scott Joplin: Ragtime Dance
Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Universal Classics B0002916-02

Scott Joplin: Solace – A Mexican Serenade
Morton Gunnar Larsen, f.
Universal Classics B0002916-02

Trad.: La Bella Cubana
Juan Carlos Valdivia, v.; Leonor Martínez, p.
Music Trends Records B001Q21MT4
5:19; 1:39

Program 3

Bill continues to examine traditional black spirituals, as well as Scott Joplin and his opera Treemonisha. We also hear the compositions of Stephan Foster and Bill notes the enjoyable and nostalgic tunes despite their now controversial lyrics.

Trad.: “Salangadou”
Michel Larue, voc.
Smithsonian Folkways 05252

Trad.: “Gwine to Alabamy”
Michel Larue, voc.
Smithsonian Folkways 05252

Trad.: “A City Called Heaven”
Terence Blanchard, p.; Jubilant Sykes, bar.
Sony 63294

Foster: “Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair”
Thomas Hampson; Michael Parloff, fl.
EMI 41645

Foster: Old Folks at Home & My Old Kentucky Home
Jay Ungar/Matt Glaser/Evan Stover/Molly Mason/Tony Trischka
EMI 54621

James A. Bland: “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny”
Louis Armstrong & the Mills Brothers
Giants of Jazz

Sydney Lambert: Rescue Polka Mazurka
Center for Black Music Research

Scott Joplin: Bethena (A Concert Waltz)
Eric Rogers, p.
Universal CL (DG) B0002916-02

Joplin: Treemonisha (excerpts)
Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and Singers
New World 80720

Trad.: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”
Apollo Jubilee Quartette
Arch 1005

Trad.: “Salangadou” (excerpt)
Eartha Kitt

Program 4

Bill returns to Eileen Southern’s book The Music of Black Americans to become acquainted with composers James S. Scott and R. Nathaniel Dett. We also hear William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony, the first of its kind to be performed by a major symphony orchestra.

James S. Scott: Frog Legs Rag
Center for Black Music Research

R. Nathaniel Dett: In the Bottoms
  I. Prelude
  II. His Song
  III. Honey
  IV. Barcarolle
  V. Dance

Natalie Hinderas, p.
CRI 629

William Grant Still: Symphony #1, Afro-American
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos 9154
12:43, 11:25

Noble Sissle: Great Camp Meetin’ Day
Ford Dabney’s Band
Arch 1005

Program 5

We close out Part I with musical heroine Florence Price, Art Tatum playing Antonín Dvorák and James Brown.

Trad.: “I Just Come from the Fountain”
Michel Larue, voc.
Smithsonian Folkways 5252
Trad: “Let Us Break Bread Together”
Terence Blanchard, p.; Jubilant Sykes, bar.
Sony 63294
Trad.: “Joe Hill”
Paul Robeson, bass
Smithsonian Folkways 40026
James Reese Europe: Castle House Rag
Center for Black Music Research, Chicago
Florence Price: Concerto in One Movement
New Black Music Repertory Ensemble/Leslie B. Dunner,Karen Walwyn, p.
Albany 1295
Florence Price: Symphony in E Minor, III & IV
New Black Music Repertory Ensemble/Leslie B. Dunner
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Lamentations for solo cello
Tahirah Whittington, vc.
Cedille 87
Antonín Dvorák, arr. Tatum: Humoresque
Art Tatum, p.
I Got You (I Feel Good)
James Brown
Diggin' on James Brown
Tower of Power


The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
You have opened up the world of Classical Music to me, where previously, it seemed too complicated.
Steffen Demeter
This is simply one of the very best radio programmes in the medium!...The study of the people, the times, and the events that inform the music we otherwise enjoy and even, heaven forbid, take for granted, brings the entire world of the music and the composer to life.
Walther Davies
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Michael Sanders
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Claudia Wertz
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Christine Anderson
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Sally Rosenbaum
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Jean Quay
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