Tuesday February 21, 2006

Songs From the Slave Ship to Sanctuary

Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir to perform traditional African-American music at UD on March 8.

Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble the Cultural Heritage Choir will make its Dayton-area debut at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, in the Kennedy Union Boll Theatre on the University of Dayton campus.

The concert is free, but tickets are required. Call (937) 229-2545.

The percussion-driven a cappella Cultural Heritage Choir preserves and shares the traditions of African-American roots music. It performs a wide range of music, including slave songs, field hollers, spirituals and work tunes, as well as pieces rooted in the deep South and connected to the music's West African and Caribbean origins.

Award-winning vocalist Linda Tillery, who founded the choir, calls it "survival music." 

"This music, particularly the spirituals, has kept black people alive through slavery, night riders' raids and segregation," Tillery writes on her Web site. "This is the music that has been used as a support for just about every political movement in this country. People take spirituals, reword them, and march together in the name of freedom and justice."

Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir incorporate call-and-response, intoned sermons and repetitive verse into their performances, as well as folk tales, percussion and dance.

The group's first collaboration with Taj Mahal and Eric Bibb, "Shakin' a Tailfeather," was nominated for a Grammy in 1997, and its second collaborative effort, "Hippity Hop," was awarded a Parents' Choice Award in 2000. In addition to Tillery, the choir includes Rhonda Benin, Elouise Burrell, Sekou Alaje, Melanie DeMore and Nicholas Bearde.

Also while in Dayton, Tillery will present "From Slave Ship to Sanctuary," which will include discussion and music, at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, in Sears Recital Hall in the Jesse Phillips Humanities Center on UD's campus. In addition, Tillery will sing during a recital by John Wesley Wright, UD tenor artist-in-residence, at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 5, in Sears Recital Hall.

For media interviews, contact John Wesley Wright at (937) 229-3931.