Her Story, Her Song: A Celebration of the Voice of African American Women Composers
African American women have played vast and diverse roles in the maintenance and propagation of American and African American culture. The images of African American women are potent in any form be it song, film, or poetry. Their wisdom is pointed and often has particular relevance to the collective historical and social situation of black people in the United States. Images of the African American woman abound in African American song and poetry and the texts reveal the “double consciousness” as defined by W.E.B. DuBois who writes that there is a sense of always looking at “one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One always feels his twoness,-- an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” From the mother in Langston Hughes’ famous poem who states that life, for her, was a rough journey up a staircase of splinters and broken steps and dreams or the mother in the poignant spiritual, Watch and Pray, who bravely waves goodbye to her child when she is sold to another plantation, the wisdom of woman can be heard in her special voice. Her Story Her Song will present a variety of opportunities for participants to engage around the theme.
Singing music, reciting poetry and movement will allow participants to “step into” culture as women experience it and begin to internalize its heartbeat. At the same time, examining one’s own material culture, especially from the perspective of culture maker and discussant, makes visible one’s own group history and way of life.
Keywords: Movement, Poetry, Cultural Exploration, Enculturation, Acculturation
Dr. Donna Cox
Professor and Chair, Department of Music