NOTEworthy: February 16

This Week’s Music:

“Ain’a that Good News”

Traditional Spiritual arranged by William Dawson

This week’s anthem is an arrangement of the Traditional spiritual, “Good News” by William Dawson. Dawson (1899-1990) was an African-American composer, conductor, trombonist, and professor dubbed the “Dean of African-American Choral Composers.” He rose to prominence with the premiere of his Negro Folk Symphony, through his many choral arrangements of Spirituals, and by leadership at the Tuskegee Institute. The joy apparent in this rousing arrangement of “Ain’a that Good News” is likely meant to evoke a ring shout (a worship ritual in which worshippers sing, shuffle and clap in a circle). These events exuded such joy that, according to a contemporary account, singing slaves “would make the dense old woods, for miles around, reverberate with their wild songs.” It’s funny, I know this account was meant to be derogatory, but it makes me wonder – what would happen if we sang and lived with such “wild” joy that it reverberated through the dense old woods of this city?

– Andy Eaton

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