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Preservation, Revitalization of Spirituals' Cultural Legacy Focus of June 13-15 Conference at University of Denver

Premiere to Feature Dr. Jacqueline Hairston's New Choral Work Performed by The Spirituals Project Choir

DENVER, CO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/15/13 -- Preserving and revitalizing the multi-layered cultural legacy of the spirituals will be the focal point of the first R E A P National Conference on the Spirituals June 13-15, 2013 at the University of Denver. Organized to facilitate dialogue between professionals and the general public from around the country, the event offers interactive workshops and presentations in diverse areas including music, education, health and healing, literature, history, religion, culture, and social justice.

The conference is being presented by The Spirituals Project in collaboration with the University of Denver. R E A P stands for the four pillars of Research, Education, Activism and Performance, which are central to the mission and guiding vision of The Spirituals Project. R E A P Conference registration is open online at

Keynote speakers at the conference will be civil rights historian and activist Dr. Vincent Harding and distinguished poet Nikki Giovanni. Dr. Harding is a civil rights leader, teacher, scholar, engaged citizen and seeker who is especially noted for his decades of social justice work and his close association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Singing and Singers in the Black-Led Movement for the Expansion of Democracy" will be the topic of his address. Ms. Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator. Over the past 30 years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. Her presentation is entitled "Every Time I Feel the Spirit."

Plenary sessions will feature Dr. Reiland Rabaka (University of Colorado- Boulder), whose focus will be "Lift Every Voice and Sing and Rap! From the Spirituals and the Abolitionist Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Movement;" and Dr. Stephanie Krusemark (Naropa University), who will discuss "Cultivating the Hidden Roots: Rescuing and Reclaiming the History of Madame Emma Azalia Hackley at the University of Denver."

Featured performers will include The Spirituals Project Choir, ASCAP award-winning composer Dr. Jacqueline Hairston, baritone Anthony Brown, soprano LaTanya Hutchins, mezzo-soprano Erica Papillion-Posey and poet in residence Dee Galloway. Dr. Hairston will premiere a new choral work created expressly for the conference. It will be performed by the 75-voice multi-ethnic and multi-generational community choir led by artistic director Bennie L. Williams.

Highlighting the workshops and presentations will be M. Liz Andrews (George Mason University) "Song of the Commodity"; Anthony Brown (Peacing It Together Foundation) "Peacing It Together: Promoting Peace and Justice Through Music and the Spoken Word "; Dr. Susheel Bibbs (Living Heritage Foundation) "Voices for Freedom -- An Introduction to the Hyers Sisters' Dream"; Dr. Stephanie Boddie (University of Pittsburgh/University of Pennsylvania) "Spirituals and The Souls of Black Folk"; Timothy Botts and Patricia Raybon (Denver, Colo.) "Painting the Spirituals: Using Artistry, Words and Cross-Cultural Collaboration to Interpret the Spirituals Across History and Race"; Marta Burton and Company (Denver, Colo.) "Unbounded: Breaking the Chains of Modern Day Slavery - Spirituals in the Service of Activism"; Dr. Gena Chandler (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) "Teaching the Spirituals: The Influence of the Spirituals in American Literature"; Dr. Kimberley Davis (University of Southern Mississippi) "Art Songs and Compositional Style of Notable 20th-Century African American Female Composers"; Bill Doggett (Friends of Negro Spirituals) "The Negro Spiritual: First Recordings - Highlights from the Bill Doggett Sound Archive"; Sam Edwards (Friends of Negro Spirituals) "Under Considered or Unrecognized West/Central African Oral Traditions in Some Folk Spirituals"; Amy Friedhaber (Denver Public Schools/Colorado Children's Chorale) "Teaching the Spirituals to Elementary School Children"; Dr. Jacqueline Hairston and Sallyanne Payton (Sacramento, Calif.) "The Negro Spiritual: How We Already Knew What We Already Know"; Dr. M. Thandubantu Iverson (Indiana University) "Wading in the Water: Hidden Knowledge, Self-Affirmation and Collective Resistance in Black Women Workers' Lives"; Arvis Jones (Western Region Director, National Association of Negro Musicians) "The Healing Power of Music As It Relates to Spirituals"; Randye Jones (University of Iowa) "Use of Dialect in the Solo Performance of Negro Spirituals"; Tamara Roberts (University of California, Berkeley) "Spirituals, Bomba and the Musical Legacy of Slavery in the Greater Caribbean"; Tiearea Robinson (California State University, Dominguez Hills) "Therapeutic Techniques: The Healing Element of the Spirituals"; Dr. Jean Snyder (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania) "H.T. Burleigh, St. George Episcopal Church, and the Spirituals"; and Wendy Willbanks Wiesner (Denver, Colo.) "Harris Neck: The Struggle for Our Land and the Songs That Galvanize Our Community."

The R E A P Conference schedule is available online at

About The Spirituals Project

The Spirituals Project is an award-winning secular, non-profit organization established in 1998, with administrative offices on the University of Denver campus. Its mission is the preservation and revitalization of the music and teachings of the songs commonly known as "spirituals," created and first sung by enslaved African women and men in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Spirituals Project operates a number of community-based programs involving performance and education, including regular concerts by its renowned 75-member multi-ethnic, multi-generational choir. The organization also maintains a popular online educational resource, Sweet Chariot: The Story of the Spirituals, which provides information and guides for further study about the multifaceted history and cultural impact of the spirituals tradition. For more information on The Spirituals Project, please visit or call 303-871-7993.

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