Berea College’s Black Music Ensemble, directed by Dr. Kathy Bullock, celebrates its 2nd Annual Festival of African-American Music which highlights selected African-American composers and features musicians/composers Dr. Diane L. White-Clayton and Dr. Raymond Wise. The festival will be held at Presser Music Hall on the Berea College campus on February 23 and at Union Church on February 24, 2013.
Saturday’s activities will consist of presentations, demonstrations and performances by various African-American composers. Registration is $15 for individuals, $45 for groups of 15-25 people and $60 for a group over 25 people. There will also be an afternoon choral session, conducted by guest artist Dr. Diane White-Clayton and Dr. Raymond Wise, that is open to all festival participants. The festival will conclude Sunday, February 24 at 3 p.m. with a concert consisting of various performers and groups, including the festival choir, led by Dr. White-Clayton. This concert will be free and open to the public.
Diane White-Clayton, the artist-in-residence for the festival, is a well-sought-after vocalist, pianist, composer, conductor, lecturer and a dynamic preacher/teacher. Originally from Washington, D.C., she received her doctorate and Master’s degrees from the University of California. She travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a workshop clinician, speaker and performer of gospel and classical music. As an Ambassador of Goodwill, she studied on a Rotary Scholarship in Paris, France. She has held numerous university and church positions, and is married to celebrated percussionist Joe Clayton, Sr. She is on the staff at the Faithful Central Bible Church and part-time faculty at Loyola Marymount University.
“Dr. Dee” has two self-produced recordings of original works and has been featured as conductor and performer of her compositions at such venues as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy Center, and the Air Canada Center in Toronto where she conducted an 800-voice choir.
Dr. Raymond Wise serves as director of the African-American Choral Ensemble at Indiana University-Bloomington. Wise attended Denison University where he earned an undergraduate degree in music, and later earned a Master’s and doctorate degrees from The Ohio State University. Wise has served as a church musician for more than 30 years and has appeared on radio and television, recorded 22 albums, performed with opera singers, orchestras, dance companies, professional recording groups, and has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, as a singer, dancer, pianist, composer, choral director, lecturer, and teacher. Dr. Wise has penned more than 600 compositions and his Anthology of 21 Spirituals for the 21st Century has received national and international acclaim.
Other guest clinicians include Dr. Alicestyne Turley, director of Berea’s Carter G. Woodson Center, Dr. Angela Hammond, Musicology Professor, and Berea alumni Emmanuel J. Stokes and Raynetta Wiggins. The Sunday culminating concert will also feature Berea music department faculty (Steve Bolster, Mark Calkins, Liza DiSavino, Kathy Bullock, Tripp Bratton, David Hummel), ensembles, as well as the West Jessamine High School chorus, and soloists from the University of Kentucky opera.
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 song.”
Today the Black Music Ensemble is still carrying out the goals set by the founding members. The enrollment has increased to over fifty members form 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 two recordings and assisted in the development of many excellent musicians. The ensemble is also champion of the 2007-2008 Choir Gospel Explosion which was held in Louisville. The choir has opened for Martha Munizi and Tye Tribett who were some of the country’s biggest contemporary gospel artist.
The first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea has a long and storied history of interracial education. In 2012, Berea established the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, which supports collaborations among existing programs related to interracial education and other shared commitments to cultural understanding, equality and justice, and extends the college’s interracial education efforts to other institutions and communities, particularly in the Appalachian region.
Born to freed slaves in Appalachian Virginia, Carter G. Woodson was a sharecropper and coal miner before attending Berea College until 1903. In 1912, Woodson became the second black American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University.
In 1915, Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and later established the “Journal of Negro History” before forming Associated Publishers Press in 1921, which published several of his own works, including “The Mis-education of the Negro,” considered by many to be one of the most important books on education ever written.
In 1926, Woodson founded Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month, celebrated across the U.S. every February. Woodson is quoted as saying, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world…”