Friday, February 6, 2015

In Honor of Black History Month: African American Spirituals by Harry T. Burleigh

Henry "Harry" Thacker Burleigh was an African American classical composer, arranger, and professional singer. He was the first black composer to be instrumental in the development of a home-grown American form of music termed “Negro Spirituals.” Legend holds, he originally heard the music sung by his blind grandfather as a young boy. 

As a music editor for Franco Colombo Music in New York City, Burleigh helped to make these Spirituals available to classically-trained artists both by introducing them to the music and by arranging the music in a more classical form.

Ultimately, Dr. Burleigh became a founding member of ASCAP and his music was instrumental in launching the careers of legendary talents like Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson. Check out the sheet music for Dr. Burleigh’s American Negro Spirituals here!

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