Edited by Azizi Powell
Update: November 10, 2018
This is Part II in a four part pancocojams series about kente cloth.
In the United States, Ghana's and the Ivory Coast's traditional kente cloth is the most widely known of all African fabrics. Since at least the 1970s, for many African Americans, kente cloth has become a symbol of pride in our African heritage. Extending that connection, in the United States kente cloth designs have been used as a symbol of African American cultural expressions, including Black Gospel music.
This post provides information and examples of the African American custom of American Gospel choirs wearing a kente cloth stole over their robes during religious services.
Click these links for three other posts in this series about contemporary customs of wearing kente cloth:
Part I: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/02/wearing-kente-cloth-stoles-during.html Wearing Kente Stoles During Graduation.
Part III: https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/02/african-day-worship-services-in-african.html
Part IV: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/02/kente-parties-worldwide-videos.html Kente cloth parties worldwide (videos)
The content of this post is presented for cultural, religious, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to the choirs and the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
These examples are posted in chronological order, with the oldest dated examples presented first.
Example #1: How Excellent - TEGC at Raise the Roof
sundaysatsevenUploaded on Jul 25, 2008
Raise the Roof Benefit Concert July 20th 2008 - Total Experience Gospel Choir: 2nd Set, song #2
"Pastor Patrinell Staten Wright started [The Total Experience Gospel Choir] as a gospel music class at Seattle's Franklin High School in 1973. Since then the choir has grown to become a nationally and internationally known gospel singing group. http://www.totalexperiencegospelchoir.org
Example #2: Sounds Of Blackness - I Believe
jackyabody0091, Uploaded on Aug 26, 2009
"Sounds of Blackness is a Grammy Award-winning vocal and instrumental ensemble from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota who perform music from several genres music including gospel, R&B, soul, and jazz. The group scored several hits on the Billboard R&B chart and Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the 1990s." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sounds_of_Blackness
Example #3: The Harlem Gospel Choir
EastCoastEntertains, Uploaded on Mar 11, 2010
...The world famous HARLEM GOSPEL CHOIR brings you an extraordinary evening of foot-stomping and hand clapping blues, jazz and gospel spirituals. From the heart of Harlem in New York City, the HARLEM GOSPEL CHOIR travels the world as the ambassadors for African American culture and is loved for its joyous music.
"[The Harlem Gospel Choir] was founded on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, 1986 (January 15, 1986) by Allen Bailey." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Gospel_Choir
Example #4: Lavender Light Gospel Choir 02-20-2011 Marble Collegiate Chu
Albert Wilcox, Uploaded on Feb 21, 2011
"Lavender Light Gospel Choir is New York City’s LGBT chorus dedicated to the black gospel music tradition. The choir is mixed male and female, and though many different ethnicities and spiritualities are encompassed within it, its focus and primary ministry are black lesbians and gays.
Founded in 1985, Lavender Light has a repertoire that includes old and new gospel, spirituals, and anthems. Members of Lavender Light convene weekly for practices, and two full concerts are produced per year. The choir also makes frequent guest appearances at community functions, running the gamut from church services to Gay Pride rallies.
As a reminder of their connection and indebtedness to Africa, Lavender Light’s members wear sashes of Kente cloth, an ancient textile first created by the Ashanti people of West Africa. Kente has long been a royal fabric, and today it is the national cloth of Ghana. The color lavender was chosen for its association with gayness, a special blending of the female pink and the male blue."
Example #5 [added November 10, 2018]
I Feel Good - Florida Mass Choir
Kadeem Graves, Published on Apr 6, 2016
This is from the 1992 album "Now, I Can See" Soloist: Ola Mae Scott
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rffwcLVm93w "Old School Church 01: A Theology of African American Worship" to find a video of a sermon given by an African American minister whose robe is decorated with kente cloth. African American ministers often wear such robes and even more frequently wear kente cloth stoles over their robes.
Click http://www.kentecloth.net/kente-cloth-designs-and-meanings/ to find examples of kente cloth designs and their meanings.
Click http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/kente/strips.htm for pages on the museum exhibition "Wrapped In Pride"
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