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John Coltrane Memorial Concert Set for Nov. 23 in Boston

Jazzed Magazine • News • November 7, 2013

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Friends of John Coltrane Memorial Concert will present “A Year of Jubilee: the 36th annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert,” with the New England Spiritual Ensemble and the John Coltrane Memorial Concert Ensemble on Saturday, November 23. The event will be hosted by Eric Jackson at Northeastern University’s Blackman Theatre.

The performers will present an evening of Jubilee Songs in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and in memory of the four young girls (Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson & Denise McNair) who were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.

As New England’s premiere vocal ensemble, the New England Spiritual Ensemble is dedicated to the preservation and performance of Negro spirituals, including Jubilee Songs with lyrics that are often more direct in revealing the enslaved Blacks’ existence. This year’s concert will feature a select repertoire encompassing a variety of vocal and instrumental manifestations, integrating John Coltrane’s rich contribution to the expansive body of songs codified as Jubilee Songs.

From childhood, Coltrane was well versed in Jubilee Songs. Both his grandfathers were AMEZ ministers and the young Coltrane grew up hearing and singing the music of the black church. In elementary school, he wrote a research paper on the renowned black concert singer Marian Anderson, who performed a diverse repertoire of spirituals. Coltrane was raised in the religious south and some of his compositions, such as “Spiritual,” “Alabama,” “Song of the Underground Railroad,” are clearly drawn from his deep familiarity with Negro spirituals.

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