Frederick Douglass Owned a Copy of a Stradivarius, His Grandson Played for Two Presidents

Frederick Douglass wasn’t just an abolitionist leader, author, and statesman – he was also a music lover. He wrote passionately about the importance of music in communities of enslaved people in his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. In fact, he wrote that music gave him his “first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never …

“High Priestess” or “Master of an Art of Singing”? Changing the Conversation about Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson is undoubtedly one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. Learn about how musicians and music historians are changing the conversation about the “Queen of Gospel.”

Signifyin’ in Song: How the Sounds of Slavery Changed Music Forever

African-American spirituals are not just a cornerstone of the American choral tradition, they have impacted countless genres of music heard everywhere from saloons to symphony halls. Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World,” borrows heavily from African-American musical traditions and spirituals in particular. The composer once said: “I am convinced that the future music of this …

What If Nina Simone Had Been a Classical Pianist?

Before Nina Simone became one of America’s most iconic jazz musicians, she wanted to have a career as a classical pianist.

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