Her Story, Her Song: A Celebration of the Voice of African American Women Composers

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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
Stream: Performing Arts Practices: Theatre, Dance, Music
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Dr. Donna Cox

Professor and Chair, Department of Music
College of Arts and Sciences, University of Dayton

Dayton, Ohio, USA

Dr. Donna Cox, Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music for seven years, is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri where she received both the Ph.D. and M.M. degrees in Performance Practices: Choral Conducting and the University of Dayton where she received the M.A. in Theological Studies. Dr. Cox, an active soloist, has performed with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Dayton Bach Society and gospel music artists Daryl Coley, Patrick Henderson, and Deneice Williams. Her scholarly research includes publications in The African American Online Lectionary, The Journal of Black Sacred Music, Triad, Griot, a chapter in the book, Black Women In The Academy: Promises and Perils, and several articles published in the Encyclopedia On Gospel Music. She has authored three books, Music In The Core Curriculum: An Integrative Approach, Gospel Songs Your Choir Will Love To Sing and her latest, Angels Encamped About Me:Provision In The Wilderness, a biographical sketch released in September 2007. Cox has received several grants to enable her to continue her studies of African American sacred music. A much-sought lecturer and choral adjudicator, her sessions have been presented at professional conferences across the United States and in several parts of the world including the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education, The International Alliance for Women in Music, several state and national music conferences and the National Theatre of Ghana, West Africa. Dr. Cox’s experience and interest are broad. She is actively engaged in diversity and leadership initiatives.

Ref: A09P0250