Of Virginia Library Exhibit To Explore Music In American Life
H. Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia
Exhibition: "Lift Every Voice: Music in American Life"
Now through Feb.11, 2002 / Free and open to the public
McGregor Room, Alderman Library, University of Virginia
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 of Virginia Library exhibition,
"Lift Every Voice: Music in American Life," explores
this vital component of our 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
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.
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
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 Canaan's 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.
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."
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.
1969 poster for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair by Arnold Skolnick.
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
interactive Web site accompanies the exhibition, making it available
around the world. Along with viewing and reading about the items
on display, visitors to the Web site, at www.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/music,
can listen to audio clips of some of the music featured in the "Lift
Every Voice: Music in American Life" will be on display through
Feb.11, 2002 in the McGregor Room of Alderman Library. The McGregor
Room is open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and
Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information,
call (434) 243-8969.
Melissa Norris, (434) 924-4254