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Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...

Article

Cedric Dent

Ring shout performers. The group formed in the Bolden community of McIntosh County on the coast of Georgia to promote the survival of the Ring shout —the oldest African American performance tradition in North America. The group performs after church worship services and on special occasions at a local church, Mt. Calvary Baptist. Because of space limitations in the sanctuary, an annex was built behind the church to accommodate performance of the ring shout, which employs call-and-response singing, percussive rhythm, and expressive and formalized dance-like movement in a counter-clockwise ring. Presumed to have died out in the 20th century, the tradition was rediscovered in 1980 when the group consented to perform at the Sea Island Festival on St. Simon’s Island in Glynn County, Georgia. The repertory is often Biblical in nature and consists of a special song type, at one time called a “running spiritual,” and believed to be a precursor to the Negro spiritual. In ...

Article

Seises  

Robert Stevenson

(Sp. ‘sixes’)

From the 16th century to the 19th, the choirboys who sang polyphony in the cathedrals of Seville, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Mexico City, Lima and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world were called seises – six being their traditional number at Seville and Toledo cathedrals. The earliest papal bulls designating the income from a prebend for a master of the choirboys in Seville Cathedral were Eugene IV’s Ad exequendum (24 September 1439) and Nicolas V’s Votis illis (27 June 1454). Throughout the next three centuries Seville Cathedral (which set the pattern for the Spanish Indies) had both a master of the altar boys who sang only plainchant, and a master of the seises, generally the maestro de capilla or his deputy. The master of the seises boarded and taught them. When their voices changed, and upon receiving a certificate of good behaviour, they were entitled to a few years’ free tuition and other benefits in the Colegio de S Miguel or in the Colegio de S Isidoro maintained by the Sevillian Chapter. Similar ...

Article

Cedric Dent

[Nightingales]

Gospel ensemble. It was formed by Barney Parks (formerly of the Dixie Hummingbirds) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1942 to sing black religious quartet music. It began as the Nightingales, with Parks as manager (he had retired from singing), guitarist Howard Carroll, and singers Paul Owens, Ben Joiner, and William Henry. It disbanded after a few years, and Parks reassembled the group in 1946, adding JoJo Wallace, Carl Coates, and the lead singer Julius “June” Cheeks. Cheeks sang with an intensity associated with the Sanctified Church, exemplifying the gospel style of quartet singing popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Audiences responded favorably to his impassioned solos leading to the group adding the word “sensational” to its name. They began recording in 1952 for Peacock Records. Cheeks temporarily left in 1954 to sing with the Soul Stirrers and again in the 1960s to sing with the Mighty Clouds of Joy. He retired in the early 1970s, after which the group continued, with Charles Johnson replacing Cheeks, and signed with Malaco Records in ...