The Cumming Playhouse Singers presents “DEEP RIVER”
We are proud to present a concert of gospel and spirituals this March. Spirituals are generally Christian songs that were created by African slaves in the United States. Spirituals were originally an oral tradition that imparted Christian values while also describing the hardships of slavery. Although spirituals were originally unaccompanied unison songs, they are best known today in harmonized choral arrangements. This historic group of uniquely American songs is now recognized as a distinct genre of music. Without this unique style of music, you would not have Jazz or Blues, and Rock N’ Roll would not exist, at least not in the form we all recognize it to be today.
Our title song, “Deep River” truly encompasses the meaning of this concert. Within all spirituals contains the despair and hope of the original African slaves. Forbidden from speaking their native language but encouraged to learn about Christianity, many slaves locked on to the biblical themes of deliverance and salvation, creating this oral tradition. While encouraged to sing up tempo songs to keep their work quick and lively, they were mostly forbidden to sing these gospel songs. However, this did not stop them and secret meetings and gatherings would be held; hence the line “I want to cross over into Campground”, also a reference to looking toward Heaven where they would truly be set free. This was a time, however brief and fraught with danger, where slaves could experience freedom in their music. After the Civil War, this new style of music would impact and influence all our American music styles, and continues to do so even today.
Our concert presents traditional gospels and spirituals you may have heard of, such as “My Lord, What A Mornin’” or “Amazing Grace”. We also feature more contemporary spirituals from current African American composers Jeffery Ames and Moses Hogan. We are proud to present this uniquely American form of music and hope you will join us for “Deep River” this March!