Black Music Ensemble (BME)

BME-3

Directed by Dr. Kathy Bullock, with assistant Jonathan Parham, the Black Music Ensemble is still carrying out the goals set by the founding members. The enrollment has increased to over eighty members from the school and community. Now an active, accredited performing ensemble of the music department, the ensemble performs at the college, surrounding churches and schools in Kentucky and throughout the country. The repertoire includes spirituals, gospel music, West African songs, anthems and other sacred music, all by African-American composers or in the African-American tradition. To date the choir has completed three recordings and assisted in the development of many excellent musicians. The ensemble are also champions of the 2007-2008 choir gospel explosion which was held in Louisville. The choir has opened up for Martha Munizi and Tye Tribett who were some of the country’s biggest contemporary gospel artist. Now an annual event in the music department, the Festival of Spirituals was organized by BME and hosts choirs and musicians from the college and across the country. Every February this event celebrates the legacy and joy of Spirituals and other African American music. In addition to supplementing religious life and expressing Christian love, the ensemble is also dedicated to fostering a fellowship of brotherly love. The ensemble shows that through song, that people from all walks of life can come together as one and send forward positive messages to all those they come in contact with. This group includes members of different races, ethnic backgrounds, religious denominations, and perspectives. Today more than ever before, the major goal of the Black Music Ensemble is unity through the Christian faith using song and encouraging all that we come in contact with.

History

The Berea College Black Music Ensemble was organized during the fall of 1969 by a small group of black students on campus. Members of the Black Student Union, these students wanted to bring their religious culture to Berea, singing the Black spirituals and gospel music of their home churches, and sharing this music with the entire campus and community. With these ideas in mind the 1969 Black Ensemble was formed stating that its goals were to “supplement religious life on campus and give vent to Christian love through songs.”

To book the Black Music Ensemble please see contact: Visiting Professor E.J. Stokes, BME Liaison and Assistant:  (stokese@berea.edu)