A Brief History
Afrocentric Voices in "Classical" Music was launched in February 1998 by Randye Jones. The site started small, with a handful of biographies on musicians such as composer H. T. Burleigh and Marian Anderson as well as a bibliography of relevant music resources. However, since Afrocentric Voices moved to its current domain, it has seen the addition of several features, including the Future Voices list of up-and-coming African Americans in vocal music, begun in 2000, the 2001 addition of a chronology of achievements by African American vocalists, composers, and publishers, and the Gallery of pictures of internationally renowned African American singers and composers of vocal music, introduced in 2005. In 2008, Afrocentric Voices Radio launched, its stated goal to provide "a range of Classical music often missed by traditional Classical music stations." Other services continue to be added.
When Afrocentric Voices first opened, there was no other site that focused on the accomplishments of African Americans on the opera or concert stage. Fortunately, other researchers have also taken on the task of spreading the word about these contemporary musicians. Plus, more living musicians are taking advantage of the Internet to share their own histories with us all. Therefore, Afrocentic Voices has begun selecting biographical subjects whose careers have not yet received the level of recognition online they richly deserve.
received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina, and her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Florida State University,
Tallahassee. Ms. Jones is currently a doctoral student in Vocal Literature at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
She served as a music cataloger for the Florida State University Libraries, a library manager position at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and as Media Room supervisor for the Grinnell College Libraries. Ms. Jones continues to perform, teach, and conduct research privately across the United States. For more information, visit Ms. Jones' biography page.
Ms. Jones' comments about Afrocentric Voices:
I've found two main recurring themes in the biographies of African American musicians who have been profiled here. First, none of these "divas" and "divos" had an easy time developing a career in classical music. All had to deal, in various degrees, with the assumptions that Blacks had no place on the concert stage. While the level of overt racial discrimination has diminished, we classical musicians of African descent--especially men--still have difficulty finding support for our efforts.
Secondly, there has been such a strong connection between the generations. These performers and composers not only focused on their own careers, they sponsored competitions, served as educators and lecturers, and encouraged and financially supported up-and-coming musicians. From H. T. Burleigh and Roland Hayes to R. Nathaniel Dett, Marian Anderson and Edward Boatner; Dett, Anderson, and Paul Robeson to Dorothy Maynor and Leontyne Price.. the links from the past to the present are almost too numerous to track. We contemporary vocalists and composers owe the pioneers a great debt that we can only begin to repay by helping the next generation in every way we can.
David Weaver, the contributor of the biographical article on Ruby Elzy, has devoted more than four years to researching the life and career of Ms. Elzy. The results of his work, a full-length biography entitled Black Diva of the Thirties - The Life of Ruby Elzy, was published in August, 2004, by University Press of Mississippi. Weaver's career in the performing arts and public broadcasting spans more than 20 years. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Flandreau/Center for Black Music
Research, Columbia College Chicago.
[RH] Reginald Harris
[BCM] Byron C. Mayes
[SV] Sara Velez, New York Public
Library for the Performing Arts
Please submit contributions, comments, or
suggestions to Randye
Jones. . Contents of Afrocentric Voices may be used for non-commercial purposes only if the source is acknowledged. All material remains the property of its creator. All commercial rights reserved.
To cite this page:
Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music. Created by Randye Jones. Created/Last modified: January 27, 2012. Accessed: . http://www.afrovoices.com/dett.html.