National Museum of African American Music partners with TSU for Spiritual Festival

Portrait of Harry T. Burleigh, circa 1900. (photo courtesy of the Burleigh Society)

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) has been named a sponsor of the fourth annual Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival, hosted at Tennessee State University this weekend.

The museum will sponsor several events including a panel discussion on Friday and the closing scholarship concert Saturday night. The scholarship concert is free and open to the public.

African American baritone and composer Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949) is known for his radical legacy of disrupting boundaries and challenging social norms to address the issues of the day through art.

With a theme taken from the title of a Burleigh arrangement in the slave dialect, this year’s spiritual festival will explore and dissect the Negro Spiritual’s influence on modern composition and music-making, non-African American composers, social justice movements, and hip-hop.

“Even though we are scheduled to open next year, NMAAM has made and will continue to make the effort to educate and engage our local community with education programs like this,” said H. Beecher Hicks III, CEO/president of NMAAM.

“So much of the music you hear today has roots going back to Negro spirituals. Along with the Spiritual Festival, the museum wants to be one of the ways that music fans of all ages learn about the connection between the past, the present and the future of the American Soundtrack.”

Tickets are available at the TSU Foundation Online Store and include entrance to all sessions, materials and lunch.


(l-r) Nashville legends Shan Foster, Eddie George and Vince Gill chair group aimed at fundraising for museum.

NMAAM names new chairs for Legends Society

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) has announced three new co-chairs, who will lead fundraising efforts for the museum’s Legends Society. The chairs will be Eddie George, former NFL running back for the Tennessee Titans; Shan Foster, former professional NBA player and shooting guard for Vanderbilt University; and Vince Gill, Grammy award-winning country music singer.

The role of the chairs is to help NMAAM fundraise through the museum membership campaign taking place through 2020, help make local and national connections, and host events related to the Legends Society. George, Foster and Gill were formally introduced as co-chairs of the Legends Society during a NMAAM reception Oct. 22.

“The support of this distinguished group is critical to NMAAM’s efforts to ensure robust programming and educational exhibitions,” NMAAM CEO H. Beecher Hicks III said. “Eddie, Shan and Vince along with all of the members of the Legends Society will inspire others through their generosity and play a vital role in the life of the museum.”

Memberships to the Legends Society are now available, and you can find out more information by contacting Kara Duke, assistant director of development for NMAAM, at <>.