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Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition with Ysaye M. Barnwell

March  16 - 17, 2013
10:00 am - 5:30 pm


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Ysaye Barnwell. Copyright Dwight Carter.

Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition with Ysaye M. Barnwell

There is an awesome power in the human voice. When uncommon voices are blended for the common good, they become a vocal community at its best. Masterfully led by Ysaye M. Barnwell, singers and non-singers alike share the common experience of learning in the oral tradition and singing rhythms, chants, traditional songs from Africa and the diaspora, and a variety of songs from African American culture. These include spirituals, ring shouts, hymns, gospels, and songs from the civil rights movement. The historical, social, and political context will provide an introduction to the songs. Throughout this experience, the group will explore, from an African American worldview, the values imbedded in the music, the role of cultural and spiritual traditions and rituals, ways in which leadership emerges and can be shared by and among community members, the nature of cultural responses to and influences on political and social struggle, and finally the significance of a shared communal experience in one's personal life. All that is required is a willingness to sing.

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Ysaye M. Barnwell, PhD, has performed with the internationally renowned African American female quintet Sweet Honey In The Rock® for more than twenty years. She has spent much of her time off stage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Barnwell has conducted her workshop "Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition" for the past twenty-five years, and on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, a model of pedagogy for educators, cultural activists, and historians.

California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103