The Genius of the American Spiritual Ensemble

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Blending hope, joy, sorrow, escape and faith, The American Spiritual Ensemble brings a tremendous sound to St. Paul's Central Presbyterian Church in this special rebroadcast. Tune in at 7 p.m., April 5 to hear this incredible concert.

There's a good chance that, if you've ever sung in a choir or attended a choral concert, you've been blessed by a spiritual. Something about these songs seems to transcend nearly any singer's ability, experience, even nationality. I remember in 2002 when the World Choral Symposium came to Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis for one glorious summer week, choir after choir — from Sweden to South Africa — sang an American Negro Spiritual. Each did beautifully.

Even though this music works for just about any choir, we have to remember that it came out of a bitter, uniquely American circumstance. Several hundred years of bondage: How is it that slaves could find it in themselves to sing? To blend hope, sorrow, joy, escape, and faith with American hymns and African rhythms? That's the genius of the spiritual and those who created them. There's no finer ensemble we could have invited to sing these for you than the one you're about to hear.

Original Article
by Brian Newhouse · St. Paul, Minn. · Apr 5, 2016
Photos by: MPR Photo / Nate Ryan