Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Black Catholics In The USA Sing Gospel Music

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series about African American Catholicism. Part II [formerly titled "Seven Videos Of African American Catholic Gospel Music"] showcases seven videos of Black Catholics in the United States singing Gospel music. Selected comments from the discussion threads of some of those videos are also included in this post.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I [formerly titled African American Catholics...] presents some historical information and comments about Black Catholics in the United States.

Note that the focus of this series is on African American Catholics only and not on other Black Catholics from the Caribbean, South American, Africa, and elsewhere who are now living in the United States.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, religious and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in the videos that are embedded in this post. Thanks to the publishers of those videos and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

These videos are presented in chronological order according to their publishing dates with the oldest dated video given first.

Notice that a number of people in several of these videos are wearing kente cloth sashes. In the United States since at least the late 1990s Ghanaian and Ivory Coast kente cloth has become a symbol of African heritage. Click for a pancocojams post that is part of a series about the Black American custom of wearing kente cloth. Also notice that there are people who don't appear to be Black in those choirs and in those congregations.

Example #1: St Joan of Arc Catholic Church [New Orleans, Louisiana] 100th Anniversary Celebration

ls3studios, Uploaded on Sep 5, 2008

100 Years of Faith: St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church Celebrates
"Forging the Future from the Struggles of the Past"
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Matthew Zachary, 2009
"i'm going to New Orleans for college in 2 weeks. woot woot. im so excited. but are catholic churches there still racially segregated? jw. i hope not, cuz i need a home parish there.

J Ashton, 2010
"Beautiful. I'm so glad I found this. As a new Catholic, I love seeing the unity with my own congregation. LOVE THE SONG. I will visit this again, just to hear the song!"

Example #2: Black Catholic Choir

Jobriga, Uploaded on Apr 27, 2011

The Lord's Prayer (Our Father) as sung by the Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir.

Performed in the Goddard Chapel at Tufts University on Sunday, 1/28/07.

Example #3: National Black Catholic Congress XI Day of Reflection: A Retrospective Slideshow

Andrew Lyke, Published on Mar 11, 2012

Prepared for the Day of Reflection for the National Black Catholic Congress XI

Archdiocese of Chicago
March 10, 2012
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Jeremiah17v9, 2013
"I get very sad when I see the name of my Catholic Faith prefixed with a certain colour!

There is NO room for this divisive terminology in the Universal Catholic Church!"

neenee0949, 2015
"To my dear friend Andrew Lyke, I say I cannot thank you enough for this! To Jeremiah17v9 I say I was privileged to be in an audience with Pope John Paul II and heard him say with my own ears that just as Black Catholics need the church, the church needs our gift of blackness, and this my brother is our gift of blackness at it's finest!"

Example #4: National Black Catholic Congress 2012

Dale Brown, Published on Jul 20, 2012

July 19 Mass entrance procession
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Joslyn Brown, 2012
"I was there and the procession of Clergy at the beginning of each Mass was awesome and spirited, the singing by the choir was breathtaking and uplifting, and the Homilies each day left you wanting more, and were something good to reflect on and share!!!!!!!!!"

wcliffordpetty, 2013
"Thanks for posting...My name is W. Clifford Petty and I am the soloist featured in this video. This song was composed by Dr. Patrick Bradley and recorded on my TOUCH JESUS cd. You can download this song from iTunes. The sheet music and the CD are also available on the World Library Music web site."

barritube1, 2013
"This reminds me of our Mass sessions we had when I went to Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Cameroon. It was so full of energy. Especially during feast days like Easter."

Stefanie Miles, 2014
"These are Black Catholics who gathered from all over the country in Indianapolis for this conference. My parish was there from the Archdiocese of Washington (DC). This was an AWESOME experience!"

Example #5: Music in Liturgy - Office of Black Catholics

WashArchdiocese, Published on Jul 31, 2013

Music in Liturgy: Music has always been a part of the worship life of the faithful. The African American Catholic voice is lifted up in praise and worship every time we gather at the liturgy. The exuberant and participatory expression of Gospel music you find in African American parishes is a wonderful example of the "New Evangelization" which the church has embraced. This music is an expression of our own (cultural) traditions and religious life. This diversity of worship practices and spiritualities is a strength of our church. This video touches on one part of how we are "Truly Black and Authentically Catholic".

For more information, please visit:

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Example #6: "Follow the Lamb" performed by the St. Columba Catholic Church Gospel Choir

Michael McAlpin, Published on Jan 18, 2013

The St. Columba Catholic Church Gospel Choir visited Saint Mary's on Jan. 15, 2013 to mark the 150th anniversary of the College, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. The choir sang a variety of gospel songs and spirituals and liturgical music from the Black Gospel tradition written for the Catholic Mass. "Follow the Lamb" is a selection composed by St. Columba's music director Rawn Harbor.
I'm not sure where this choir is located.

Example #7: Inside the only African American Catholic basilica

The Virginian-Pilot, Published on Jul 30, 2014

Basilica of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk [Virginia] is the only African American basilica in the country. The music director and the rector talk about their unique music direction and worship. Story:
An excerpt of this article is included in Part I of this pancocojams series. Here's a definition of "basilica" from that article:
"The name "basilica" is a Roman Catholic honor bestowed by the pope to a church with architectural beauty and history. St. Mary's, the oldest Catholic church in the state, was built when steeples dominated skylines and churches were works of Gothic art. Its original 1842 structure, destroyed by fire in 1856, was replaced by the current one in 1858.”

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