Singing the African American Spirituals with Integrity 2023


Sat Mar 18 2023 at 02:00 pm to 05:00 pm


6361 Lancaster Ave | Philadelphia, PA

A workshop for church musicians, clergy, and lay to learn how to introduce African American Spirituals to their choirs and congregations.
About this Event

Workshop – Singing the African American Spirituals with Integrity

Saturday, March 18, 2023 from 2:00-5:00 pm at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, 6361 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19151.

This will be an in-person workshop, video recorded but not livestreamed; Proof of vaccination will be required of all participants. During the first part of the workshop, the four clinicians will take turns modeling how they teach the Spirituals to their adult, youth, and children’s choirs, as well as to their congregations. The afternoon will conclude with a short service of singing, prayer, and a homily. Sponsored by the Anti-Racism Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

with featured clinicians:

, Organist/Choir Director, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia

, international jazz composer, performer, and clinician

Carrie Lessene, Artistic Director, Intermezzo Choir Ministry, Philadelphia

, Canon for Music and the Arts, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

Closing worship led by: , 17 th Rector, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

The , Carrie Lessene, conductor

Music for these selections will be provided to attendees as part of the workshop. Special attention will be given to the historical context of the music, and the ways in which those who are not direct descendants of the enslaved people who originated the Spirituals can develop their own authentic connection to the music with respect and integrity.

Singing the African American Spirituals with Integrity - Featured Clinicians

Jay Fluellen is a Philadelphia born musician known as a composer, college professor, educator, accompanist, pianist, singer, and organist/choir director. He has a doctorate in music composition from Temple University in addition to his certification in K-12 music education from Eastern University. Dr. Fluellen is currently a teacher with the School District of Philadelphia at Northeast High School, where is the choir director, music technology specialist, and stage manager. He has taught college level courses in the fields of music composition, written and aural theory, music history, piano, and conducting at Morgan State University, Lincoln University, Montgomery County Community College, University of the Arts, and Community College of Philadelphia.

Fluellen has been commissioned by numerous institutions, including; The Philadelphia Jazz Project, Orchestra 2001, The Bucks County Choral Society, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Network for New Music, Relâche, Singing City, Traci Hall Dance Co., The Settlement School of Music, and Trinity Episcopal Church, Swarthmore, among others. Since January 1997, has served as organist/choir director at the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Fr. Martini Shaw, rector, where he directs the Chancel Choir, a contemporary jazz ensemble, and co-directs a Men’s Choir, in addition to other responsibilities.

Ruth Naomi Floyd is a vocalist and composer who for 25 years has been at the forefront of creating a discography of vocal jazz settings that express theology, history, and justice.

A committed music educator, Ruth is the first African American woman to serve as the Founding Director of a University Jazz Studies Program in the United States. She served as Director of Jazz Studies at Cairn University and is an Adjunct Professor and Director of the Jazz Choir at Temple University. In addition, Ruth was the Music Director at the City School. (K-12 grades) For the 2022-2023 academic year, the Community College of Philadelphia appointed Ruth as their Inaugural Artist-in-Residence. Concordia College New York awarded Ruth an Honorary Doctorate for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work.

Frederick Douglass Jazz Works is Ruth's award-winning body of compositions for jazz septet. Ruth has commissioned works, including a three-song cycle for voice and cello, in honor of the great contralto, Marian Anderson. Ruth was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Project Grant for The Frances Suite, which celebrates the life of Frances Ellen Watkin Harper, and features an all-female ensemble of color. The Orrin Evans Trio, featuring Ruth, was named one of NPR Music's Best Live Sessions of 2021 for their powerful rendition of the African American Spiritual "Oh Freedom"; Ruth has received fellowships and grants for her compositions and lectures and performs worldwide.

Carrie Walker Lessene was born and raised in North Philadelphia. As she began her education in the Philadelphia School System her interest in music began. Due to the musical education she received in her primary grades playing the piano, flute and cello before the age of 13, her musical talent grew. Her years at Girls’ High, graduating in 1977, prepared her for a Music Therapy degree at Montclair University. Carrie has had multiple experiences as a vocalist/musician, those which include singing before Presidents, singing upon the sands of Egypt and abroad, and even singing before Pope Francis. The gospel, classical and jazz idioms have all been layered as intertwining components of her background.

As a member of the Grammy-nominated Gabriel Hardeman Delegation, Director of Intermezzo Choir Ministry, founded by Dr. Verolga Nix, composer/soloist with the Robert Ladson Ensemble, and Director of Music for her church, Berean Presbyterian, where she also serves as an Elder, music offered by Carrie has been enjoyed by many congregations. On two recent occasions Carrie has been accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by world renowned conductor Andre Raphel as a member of the Freedom Choir directed by Dr. Nolan Williams. This afforded her the opportunity to lead the final selection of the opening summer season of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Lessene serves as teacher and choral conductor at the Gibson School of Music and is a FAME Teaching Artist with Musicopia in North Philadelphia.

The Intermezzo Choir Ministry was founded by the late Verolga Nix in 1967. The choir achieved significant prominence in Philadelphia and throughout the world. Nix led the choir across a 10-city tour through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Italy. The tour resulted in a new Intermezzo favorite – Hide Me in Thy Cleft, O God. In 2004, Intermezzo became the first African-American choir to sing the national anthem in Citizens Bank Park for a Phillies baseball game. The choir was invited by Gov. Edward G. Rendell to sing at the 2007 gubernatorial inauguration in Harrisburg. Carrie Lessene succeeded Verloga Nix as director of the choir following her passing in 2014.

Thomas Lloyd is a conductor, composer, and singer who has served as Canon for Music and the Arts at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral since 2010 and Artistic Director of the Bucks County Choral Society since 2000. He is Emeritus Professor of Music at Haverford College, where he directed the combined Choral and Vocal Studies Program for Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges from 1996-2018. The premiere recording of his 70-minute choral-theater work Bonhoeffer by The Crossing was nominated for a 2017 Grammy in the Best Choral Performance category.

Dr. Lloyd has formed collaborative performance projects with a wide range of over 80 different choirs, both regionally and in leading twelve international tours. Growing out of shared performances with the HBCU choirs of Fisk, Howard, and Lincoln universities, a major focus of his scholarly research has been the history and performance practice of the African American Spiritual, as well as sacred choral jazz in the tradition of Duke Ellington, teaching sacred music in secular contexts, and cross-cultural collaborations.

In addition to articles for national and international journals, his work in these areas has been the subject of feature programming on NPR stations WRTI-FM and WHYY-FM, Philadelphia, as well as PBS station WHYY. In December 2020, a collaboration with Philadelphia conductor Donald Dumpson resulted in an hour-long WHYY-TV special Christmas Together in a Time of Isolation that reached over 20,000 viewers. Lloyd holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory (BM bassoon), Yale Divinity School (MAR pastoral theology), the Yale School of Music (MM voice and opera), and the University of Illinois (DMA choral conducting).


Where is it happening?

6361 Lancaster Ave, 6361 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, United States

Event Location & Nearby Stays:


USD 15.00

Anti-Racism Commission, Diocese of Pennsylvania

Host or Publisher Anti-Racism Commission, Diocese of Pennsylvania

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