The Norman Transcript


April 14, 2014

Festival of Spirituals celebrates music’s history

NORMAN — African American spirituals rang out in the First Presbyterian Church on Palm Sunday during Cimarron Opera’s 45th Annual Festival of Spirituals.

The event featured the Northern Oklahoma College Choir, OU Trombone Choir, Boulevard Brass Quintet, First Presbyterian Church Youth Choir and several vocalists.

“We’re thrilled that this program is still going, it’s still happening,” said Shari Ransley, Cimarron Opera executive director.

Directing the OU Trombone Choir was Professor Irv Wagner, who arranged “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” performed at the church Sunday. Wagner said the trombone choir participated at the very first Festival of Spirituals back in 1969.

“The spirituals are really, to me, a fascinating body of music,” Ransley said. “Most of us in this room, if we’re really honest with ourselves, don’t know much about the music, how it was created, where it came from.”

Ransley said the music is an integral part of American expression. It started with enslaved African Americans who passed along the music orally. The first 200 years we have no idea what it sounded like or how it happened because this was not exactly a group of people whose voices were listened to, she said.

After the civil war, the music nearly disappeared. However, thankfully, a few arrangers sat down to capture the music in order to provide a “snapshot in time” of what the spirituals are, she said.

“This music that nearly almost disappeared has woven itself into gospel, R&B, jazz, pop, blues, really any genre of music,” Ransley said. “This body of music encompasses so many different types of tone.”

There were songs sung to pass time while hard labor was being done, songs sung to help lift spirits in the evening and songs sung that resonate with meaning and hope and spirituality that were there to help express the soul of the people, she said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Baker home 3 Moore resident lands in new home 14 months after tornado

    She crawled from the rubble of what used to be her home. The neighborhood was destroyed. It was the afternoon of May 20, 2013, and Jamie Baker was homeless....

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Additional details come to light in Campus Corner incident involving Sooner recruit

    The 911 call from Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning brought forth more details from the incident that has Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon under investigation for an alleged assault....

    July 30, 2014

  • Police rule out homicide in Norman woman’s death

    Norman Police Capt. Todd Gibson said Tuesday they have eliminated the theory of homicide after a Norman woman was found dead in her home Monday afternoon. “We’re moving in a different direction with the investigation,” Gibson said. “It’s ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Voter registration deadline is Friday

    Friday is the last day to apply for voter registration to be eligible to vote in the Aug. 26 Runoff Primary Election. Races include federal, state and county offices, but for Cleveland County voters, the field is limited....

    July 30, 2014

  • Norman High student argues his way to the top

    Knowing the ins and outs of an argument that involves complex research is the type of skill one expects a high paid attorney to have not a high school student. Yet debate competitor Nicky Halterman has been arguing his way to the top of ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Shelter construction ongoing; residents voice concerns

    A regular quarterly meeting of the Animal Shelter Oversight Board prompted Norman residents to speak up about more than just a photo release issue Monday night involving Friends of the Animals of Norman volunteers and the city of Norman. ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Monday: · 8:20 a.m. larceny report, 2000 block of West Lindsey Street · 9:04 a.m. stolen vehicle, 3400 block of Bart Conner Drive · 9:11 a.m. larceny report, 1200 block of Ed ...

    July 30, 2014