The American Sound Celebrates Black Composers Saturday at 6pm

Above: Harlem Jazz – Rare vintage audio of jazz greats James P. Johnson and Fats Waller performing a duet.

The glories of the Harlem Renaissance and the riches of African cultural traditions all find a voice on The American Sound this Saturday at 6pm on Classical 101.

This Saturday, as Black History Month continues, The American Sound features African-American composers whose lives and music have forever enriched the American musicscape. We’ll hear from Thomas Wiggins, also known as “Blind Tom,” the blind musical prodigy born into slavery who could play anything by ear at the piano – including delightful works of his own invention.

This Saturday evening we’ll also recall the traditions of Africa that were brought to America, and reflect on those that were lost amid the devastation of slavery. In composing his Negro Folk Symphony composer, conductor and educator William Dawson wanted to try to convey in music the freedom and history that were lost when Africans were bought to America and sold into slavery. The symphony is a stirring and beautiful reminder of the dignity of African-American culture and traditions.

Finally, on The American Sound we’ll take a musical tour of a Harlem jazz club. The Harlem Renaissance, the period of artistic flourishing in the 1920s among Harlem-based African-American writers, artists and musicians, was the inspiration for jazz great James P. Johnson’s Harlem Symhony. Johnson grew up hearing, and later performing, the ragtime and jazz of Harlem’s night clubs. Johnson’s Harlem Symphony is a fun tribute to the wild and wonderful early days of jazz.

Join me Saturday at 6 pm for a celebration of African-American composers on The American Sound on Classical 101!

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