Saturday, September 14, 2019 Daryl Duff & Bridget Capparuccia in Negro Spirituals Sept. 15, 4 PM

The Sampson Independent

Clinton, North Carolina

September 13, 2019

This Sunday afternoon, Graves Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown Clinton is pleased to welcome Mr. Daryl Duff and Miss Bridget Capparuccia for its final summer concert in the series. The theme of this concert will be Negro Spirituals, a genre of music that is both distinctly American and influenced most other American music.

In the late 1800’s, H. T. Burleigh began collecting and arranging the Negro Spirituals in order to preserve them for posterity. Famed Hungarian composer Antonin Dvorak met Burleigh, and they struck up a close friendship. So-taken with the beauty of the Negro Spiritual, he commented, “I am satisfied that the future of music in this country must be founded on what are called the Negro melodies.” Before sailing back to Hungary, Dvorak told Burleigh, “God has called you to take the music of your people and combine it with the music of my people to give the world something entirely new from this great nation that He has raised up. Through slavery these songs were given by God as a gift to your people. Now you must take your grandfather’s legacy and share it with the world. Harry, give these melodies to the world.”

So, how are the Spirituals foundational for most American music? Mr. Duff explains, “After the Civil War, former slaves relocated from southern plantations to urban American cities. They worshiped in storefront churches singing spirituals as a congregation; creating the ‘congregational spiritual’. Jazz and blues musicians attended these storefront church services and got saved. Though these musicians gave their life to the Lord, they retained their musical skills and added them to the congregational spiritual. In time, the simple melodies, rhythms and chord progressions were enhanced by the skills of these former worldly musicians transforming congregational spirituals into Black Gospel music. In short Negro Spirituals progressed to Congregational Spirituals which then progressed into the Black Gospel Music genre we know today.” In addition, we can also easily trace the lineage of R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rock-n-Roll back through the progressions and rhythms of Jazz and blues – all distinctly American genres of music.

Another characteristic of the Spiritual is, of course, the spiritual aspect as most all Negro Spirituals include Judeo-Christian elements. Lyrics rooted in Scriptural themes and deeply Christian fundamentals also bear the wide range of human emotions as experienced through that lens of faith. From doleful phrases of longing to the rapturous expressions of freedom and triumph, the lyrics are quite capable of taking the listener “beyond” the present all the while speaking directly to the hurts and joys of today. Perhaps, then, as we reflect on the origins of this significant and “distinct combination of traditional West African and Western European aesthetic” we can say with the Old Testament hero, Joseph, “[They] may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

E. Daryl Duff is an Assistant Professor of Commercial Music and Voice at Liberty University School of Music in Lynchburg, Va. Having served 23 years as soloist, vocalist and Leading Chief Petty Officer with the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters Chorus, he has sung before four U.S. Presidents, the Department of the Navy, and numerous other government officials. Mr. Duff has been a featured soloist on seven U.S. Navy Band recordings and several U. S. Navy Band concerts televised by the Armed Forces Network.

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