exhibit explores music in American life
Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass, I hear America singing,
he was not merely exercising poetic license. Song served in his
day as the accompaniment to lifes daily activities, as it
had for ages past. A new University Library exhibition, Lift
Every Voice: Music in American Life, explores this vital
component of national life and celebrates four centuries of popular
vocal music in America.
have long lifted their voices in joy and sorrow, anticipation
and anger, supplication and thanks, said assistant music
librarian Mary Prendergast, curator of the exhibit. Theyve
sung ballads and laments, ditties and anthems, hymns and spirituals.
Theyve chronicled their crises and celebrated their successes,
crafting music to cajole and console, to provoke and evoke, to
incite and invite.
1619, Africans first arrived in Virginia, bringing with them a
rich oral tradition in which nearly every activity in life was
accompanied by music. A year later, a group of white settlers
landed at Plymouth, carrying with them a cherished book of psalms
to help them sing the Lords praises in a strange land. Tracing
the American vocal tradition from these early roots, the exhibition
explores the influence of political events and social mores on
musics style and substance.
Lift Every Voice features patriotic songs, hymns and
spirituals, minstrels and musicals, protest songs and 1960s rock
and roll. Sheet music, songbooks, broadsides, posters, photos
and recorded music help to tell the story of Americas triumphs
and trials through the voices of its people. Some highlights of
the exhibit include:
Concert of American Songs
* * *
Oct. 19, 4 to 5 p.m.,
Featuring U.Va. student groups: New Dominions, Virginia
Womens Chorus, First Year Players, The Silhooettes
and the Glee Club
A signed handwritten copy of The Battle Hymn of the Republic
by Julia Ward Howe. Originally a Southern camp-meeting song, Say
Brothers, Will You Meet Us on Canaans Happy Shore?
became one of the most popular Union ballads when members of the
12th Massachusetts Infantry in 1861 wrote new words. Howe transformed
the lyrics once again, adding stirring patriotic verse, after
hearing the song on a visit to the Army of the Potomac in 1861.
A manuscript of Dixies Land by Daniel Decatur
Emmett. Emmett had no intention of creating a Confederate anthem
when he penned the 1859 minstrel show hit, I Wish I Was
in Dixies Land.
Jubilee Songs: Complete. As Sung by the Jubilee Singers, of Fisk
University, edited by Theodore Seward. In 1871, the Fisk Jubilee
Singers, including seven former slaves, embarked on a concert
tour to help save their fledgling school from bankruptcy.
A 1969 poster for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair by Arnold Skolnick.
Legendary 1960s album covers: Bob Dylan, The Times
They Are A-Changin (1964); the Beatles, Sgt.
Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967); and The Jimi
Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? (1967).
interactive Web site accompanies the exhibition at www.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/music.
Along with viewing and reading about the items on display, visitors
to the Web site can listen to audio clips of some of the music
featured in the Lift Every Voice.
exhibit will be on display through Feb.11, 2002, in the McGregor
Room of Alderman Library and open to the public Monday through
Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.