Taking its name from Langston Hughes’ 1925 poem, The I, Too, Sing America Project is a musical conversation and performance partnership between the Cathedral Choral Society and the Heritage Signature Chorale to increase awareness and understanding of the music of African Americans, with the aim of elevating the art form in the public consciousness and better establishing it as a foundation of American music. We will be exploring the repertoire of Spirituals, as well as large-scale choral-orchestral works of African American composers.
Rarely has African American music been given the same attention on concert programs, in research journals, in funding opportunities, and in the overall national consciousness as music of other traditions. Yet, African American music represents a truly significant foundation of American musical culture. The music first evolved as the expression of enslaved peoples, and then served as the foundation for quintessential American genres, such as jazz, blues, and rock n’ roll. The original music itself is deeply complex, rich in history, and beautiful in aesthetic. We are excited to explore this repertoire more deeply together with an ensemble that has a particularly powerful connection with and expertise in it. What’s more, the music provides a profound perspective on slavery and the emotions and challenges of those people who endured slavery.
I, Too, Sing America is a reference to the first line of Langston Hughes’ 1925 poem “I, Too.” In it, Hughes uses the image of African American people not having a seat at the table “when company comes,” and refers to a time when others might realize the beauty of the African American culture. The I, Too, Sing America Project will document a journey in learning to understand, perform, and celebrate the deep history and meaning in the music of African Americans.