Black History Month celebrated through music

The Princely Players

The Princely Players

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) has partnered with the Nashville Public Library and The Hermitage to launch a collaborative series of events during Black History Month.

Events began with three ‘master classes’ offered to showcase various styles of music instrumentation used by African Americans to express music and have proven influential in the development of American music. The series, which began Saturday at the Madison Branch Library, will continue every Saturday in the month of February at different Nashville Public Library locations. These events will serve as an opportunity for students and members of the Nashville community to experience history in person.

Highlighting music of time periods that saw growth of homemade musical instruments and family entertainment, these master classes feature handmade instruments that have been used or impacted music in various genres including country, gospel and blues.

On February 22, NMAAM and The Hermitage present the “African American Impact on Nashville” at the Hermitage Chapel, for a memorial concert and service celebrating the lives of more than 150 African Americans held in slavery at The Hermitage. This collaboration provides an opportunity for The Princely Players to perform at this concert.

“To be able to highlight this part of our shared history is something we are proud to present to the community,” said Kim Johnson, NMAAM’s director of programs and education. “We are delighted to partner with the Nashville Public Library and The Hermitage to celebrate Black History Month in a series designed to engage and educate the public through music.”

Details for this series are as follows:
• Saturday, February 8, 2014 from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. – The North Branch Library will host “The Harmonica” featuring Carlos Bailey (the grandson of Deford Bailey Sr.) Mr. Bailey comes from a long line of harmonica players as he is a third generation musician. Of all instruments to be featured in the Music in the Library Series, the harmonic is one of the most popular. (North Branch is located at 1001 Monroe Street 37208).

• Saturday, February 15, 2014 from 2 – 3 p.m. – The Bordeaux Branch Library will host “Spoons Playing” featuring Mr. Lucius Talley, 70, is a native Nashvillian and a retired U.S. Postal Service letter carrier. Lucius’ spoon-playing has led him to performances in a wide range of venues, from churches and restaurants to cruise ships, retirement homes, and youth organizations, both in the U.S. and internationally. He says, “It’s something that I enjoy doing for fun, and I get joy from seeing the smiles on the faces of the youth and all those who are present.” Classified as a percussive instrument, spoon playing in heard in genres such as Minstrels, Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Folk Music. (Bordeaux Branch is located at 4000 Clarksville Pike, Nashville TN, 37218).

• Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 1:00-3:00 pm- The Hermitage Church will host a Memorial Concert and Service. One of the Hermitage’s most enduring traditions, the public will gather at the historic Hermitage Church (located at 4580 Rachel’s Lane Nashville, TN 37076) for a memorial concert and service celebrating the lives the more than 150 African-Americans held in slavery here. The Hermitage is proudly partnering with the National Museum of African-American Music (NMAAM) to bring The Princely Players, comprised of eight vocalists who originally met at Cameron High School in Nashville, where a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, H. German Wilson, gathered students to form a performing troupe in the 1960s.

Their performances range from traditional spirituals like “Amazing Grace” and “Swing Low” to classical jazz such as Duke Ellington’s “A-Train. At the conclusion of the concert, a memorial service will be held and the public will be invited to lay flowers inscribed with the names of the deceased at the Enslaved Memorial, located just west of the Church.