The Spirituals Project

The Spirituals Project, the award-winning organization, is part of the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.

In 1998, The Spirituals Project was founded by DU faculty member Arthur C. Jones to preserve and revitalize spirituals, an oral tradition of work songs that were created and first sung by African peoples enslaved in America. The Spirituals Project is a past recipient of the Denver Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

The Choir

The Spirituals Project Choir has presented a wide variety of high profile musical and educational programs over the years, including a national conference on spirituals in 2013 featuring poet Nikki Giovanni as keynote speaker, and a historic concert in 2009 at Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 80th birthday featuring the renowned mezzo soprano Denyce Graves as guest artist. In the fall of 2018 the choir returned to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House to perform with international opera star Kathleen Battle.

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Spirituals Project Choir

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Arthur C. Jones, founder

Arthur C. Jones, founder of The Spirituals Project, joined the Lamont School of Music faculty in 2016 after serving as chair of the Spirituals Project board, as a clinical professor in the university's Psychology Department for 18 years, and subsequently as a clinical professor and associate dean at DU's Colorado Women's College for seven years.

"I am thrilled by this development which advances substantially the University of Denver's commitment to diversity, inclusion and community engagement," Jones said. “This also ensures the long-term sustainability of The Spirituals Project, which is one of Denver’s treasured cultural resources,” Dr. Jones has presented solo concerts, lectures and workshops on spirituals throughout the United States, and he is the author of the award-winning book, Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals, now in its third edition.

M. Roger Holland, II, director

M. Roger Holland, II joined The Spirituals Project as the new director after a nationwide search, also joining the Lamont faculty. Holland is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he received the master of divinity degree and served as Artist-in-Residence and director of the seminary Gospel Choir for more than 13 years.

He received a master’s degree in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music and completed his undergraduate work at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he majored in music education with a concentration in piano and voice. While at Westminster he founded and conducted a student group called The Collegiate Ensemble with a repertoire that included gospel music and spirituals. He has toured nationally and internationally with The Boys Choir of Harlem and has worked with them as a conductor, pianist, instructor, arranger, and as former Director of Artistic Education for their school.

Spirituals Project Panel, "Sonic Resistance, Indigenous Women & Social Justice "

The Year of the Woman

Thursday, April 29 at 4pm

This panel will consider the way music and sound challenges the spaces of settler society. As part of The Spirituals Project’s thematic focus on “The Year of the Woman,” the panel will engage Indigenous female scholars, performers, and activists from both North and South America to consider the ways that sound and resistance intersect.

Panelists: Veronica Pacheco, Viki Eagle,Jacinta Toribio Torres,Brenda Child
Facilitator: Angela Parker



The Spirituals Project Symposium & Concert 2021

The Year of the Woman

Symposium: Thursday, May 13 at 4:00 p.m.

Keynote: Dr. Alisha Lola Jones  “I am Moses the Liberator” A Womanist Listening to Black Messianism in Nkeiru Okoye’s opera Harriet Tubman
Panelists: Dr. Nkeiru Okoye, Angela Brown & Rev. Dr. Lisa D. Jenkins

$10 Symposium Registration Fee for guests outside the University of Denver.

University of Denver faculty, staff, students (any university) and Spirituals Project members. RSVP for link.

Concert: Saturday, May 15 at 4:00 p.m.

Director M. Roger Holland and the Spirituals Project Choir perform works by African American women composers, spotlighting Rosephanye Powell and Linda Twine. The concert will begin in a conversation with the director and composers.

Free to view concert stream.




The original Spirituals Project Logo