Local News Archive
Print Issue: May 4, 1967
Singer Wants To Reclaim Beauty Of Negro Music
By Mary Lackie
Mrs. Bernice Reagon of Atlanta, one of the original Freedom Singers, is out to reclaim the beauty of Negro music in her appearance at the Soul Roots Festival at Morehouse College this weekend.
The origins of Negro music can be destroyed, she said, and one of the goals of the festival is to encourage the preservation of the original forms. There is a chain linking todays jazz, gospel music, rhythm and blues to those earliest work songs, slave songs, country blues and spirituals.
The daughter of a Baptist minister, Bernice Reagon was exposed to religious music from early childhood. But I didnt appreciate it then, she said. Did Negro churches have a liturgical music problem? she was asked. Yes, in a way we did. Mrs. Reagon explained that as congregations became more affluent and sophisticated, we kept our songs, but the original meaning was lost. Gospel music became something you get away from as you move up in the world.
To move up in the world meant to move into a white culture, and in the process, Mrs. Reagon said, you no longer see yourself as you really are. The picture you get of yourself is that one reflected by the whites. That is why the truth about Negro music is vitalvital to everyone.
She said Music has a strengthening powerand it also creates a bond that unites people of all backgrounds and classes.
The relevance of Negro folk music to American culture is the central theme of the Soul Roots Festival. It is the first of its kind at a Georgia college since the early 30s, Mrs. Reagon said. Singers, musicians, and choral groups from Georgia and the Georgia Sea Islands and North Carolina will participate in the three-day program.
The festival will be held in Sale Hall on the Morehouse College campus at 8 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 5-7. A workshop is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. The programs will vary: Friday, jazz and blues; Saturday, new directionsoriginal and calypso music; Sunday, gospel songs and spirituals. General admission for each concert is $1.50. For detailed information, call Morehouse College JA 3-4370.