The Power of African American Music to Inspire
December 2, 2018@3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST
$20 member | $25 non-member | $5 student with valid ID
Galleries are open until 5 pm. Limited seating. Preregistration strongly suggested.
Presented by Follow the Drinking Gourd. Featuring pianist Diane Goldsmith and singers Ivan Woods and Beverly Owens
Time-honored African American musical forms and traditions continue to stir the creativity of composers and arrangers. In this intriguing program for voices and piano, the musical group Follow the Drinking Gourd will sample the abundance that’s grown from these amazing roots. They will perform spirituals in all kinds of inventive arrangements, from jazz and tango settings to adaptation as anthems of the civil rights marches of the 1960s. Then, the group will show how the blues inspired composers like Harold Arlen and George Gershwin to write in this style. They’ll follow up with recent takes on ragtime and conjure the virtuosity of bebop jazz. Along the way, there will be such crowd-pleasers as “Basin Street Blues,” “Route 66,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “A Woman Is a Sometime Thing.” This program is performed with commentary to enrich the musical experience.
Follow the Drinking Gourd is a musical group that takes its name from the song used to guide enslaved people to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The trio presents original programs on the African American experience in music, along with commentary to put it into context. The Gourd consists of pianist Diane Goldsmith and singers Beverly Owens and Ivan Woods, who may double on saxophones and clarinet.
The group has been featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C. as well as scores of other museums, cultural centers, libraries and colleges, including Rider University, Rutgers University, the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts in Princeton, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Follow the Drinking Gourd has appeared several times at the James Michener Art Museum.
Diane Goldsmith is much in demand as a piano soloist, vocal accompanist and chamber musician. She’s won praise for performances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Recital Hall and has been a classical and jazz music critic and arts and entertainment editor for major newspapers. She studied with Gary Graffman, former director of the Curtis Institute of Music, and holds a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. She conceived, researched and developed this program.
Ivan Woods was featured at the dedication of the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts performing songs associated with Robeson – to high acclaim from the late freedom fighter’s son. A former member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus under Robert Shaw and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale, he’s appeared on a number of Grammy-winning recordings on the Telarc label. He helped develop this program and wrote several of the musical arrangements.
Beverly Owens holds a master’s degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and is music director at historic Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in Princeton, where Paul Robeson’s father preached. She’s developed and presented a well-received multimedia show on music associated with jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and has been heard in Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall under esteemed conductors Robert Shaw and Wolfgang Sawallisch.