The Spirituals Project

M. Roger Holland II, Director

 

The Spirituals Project is a Community Organization 

dedicated to preserving and revitalizing the spirituals, through musical, educational, and social justice work in our community. Our work centers around a community choir open to all.

Our Mission 

is to preserve and revitalize the music and teachings of the sacred songs called “spirituals,” created and first sung by enslaved Africans in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Spirituals uplift in times of crisis, heal, comfort, inspire and instill hopes and dreams, thereby transforming individuals, communities, and whole societies. Our goal is to ensure that the spirituals will be passed on for many generations to come.

Awards, Events & Special Performances

A past recipient of the Denver Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the organization has presented a wide variety of 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.

Join Us! 

We welcome people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to join our community choir. You do not need to be able to read music or have had any formal musical training to participate in The Spirituals Project Choir. Please join us. For more information about the organization, or to audition and join the choir, please email The Spirituals Project Director, M. Roger Holland at roger.holland@du.edu. 

The Spirituals Project Choir performs "I'm So Glad Trouble Don't Last Always" in a virtual performance.

Leadership

Arthur C. Jones, Founder

Arthur C. Jones, founder of The Spirituals Project, joined the Lamont 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 He 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. An expanded, 30th anniversary edition of Wade in the Water is scheduled for publication by Orbis Books in 2023. 

Dr. Jones retired from full-time teaching in 2019 and was appointed to serve the university for a year as interim vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. He is currently professor emeritus of music, culture and psychology, and he remains active with The Spirituals Project as a collaborator on various initiatives and as a tenor in The Spirituals Project Choir. Visit Art's Portfolio Page

M. Roger Holland, II, Director

M. Roger Holland, II is a Teaching Assistant Professor in Music and Religion and Director of The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he received the Master of Divinity degree, Roger also served as Artist-in-Residence and director of the Union Gospel Choir for over 13 years. In 2015 Union awarded him the Trailblazers Distinguished Alumni Award, the first given to a graduate whose ministry is music, for his contributions to the legacy of African American music. He received a Master's Degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, also in New York, 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.

Roger is the newly appointed editor of the In Spirit and Truth series published by GIA Publications, Inc., which reflects the aesthetic of Black Catholic worship. Commissioned works include The Dream and The Dreamer, The Tribulation Suite, and The Call. Original music collections published by GIA include “Building Up the Kingdom,” featuring the single “Worthy God,” and his recent collection, “Honey from the Rock, Vol. 1-4” He has played for the Broadway productions of Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple and the Tony award winning show, Memphis.  In November 2016 Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York presented Roger with the Pierre Toussaint Medallion for service. Visit Roger's Faculty Bio

Aleysia K. Whitmore, Faculty Affiliate

Aleysia is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and the Faculty Affiliate for The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. Her research focuses on community music making, cultural policy, the world music industry, and globalization. Her book, World Music and the Black Atlantic (Oxford University Press 2020), analyzes how musicians, industry actors, and audiences create, promote, and consume West African and Cuban musics in the world music industry. Her current book project, Sounds of a Porte Ouverte, examines how cultural policies engage with cultural diversity in southeastern France. She is currently conducting research on community music making and social justice in Denver. She was most recently a EURIAS research fellow at Aix-Marseille Université’s IMéRA Research Institute. She has also taught popular music, world music, and classical music courses at Brown University, Boston College, the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado Denver. She holds a BMus from the University of Toronto and AM and PhD degrees in ethnomusicology from Brown University. Visit Aleysia's Faculty Bio

 

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Spirituals Project Choir

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