Radio programs to chronicle 'The Harlem Renaissance'

“For Black History Month 2012, Columbia University’s ‘Rethinking Religion’ Series offers two public radio specials on the Harlem Renaissance” January 9, 2012.

During the vibrant years of the Harlem Renaissance, music, religion, and spirituality were connected—not just in the religious setting of the church, but in the jazz club, the dance hall, the rent party, even the political street rally. As part of the radio series, “Rethinking Religion,” Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, in connection with the Luce Group, presents “The Harlem Renaissance: Music, Religion, and the Politics of Race,” two public radio programs that combine music, archival readings, and guest commentary exploring this fascinating period in African-American history. Throughout Black History Month, February 2012, the programs will air on WBGO Jazz 88 (Newark) and select public radio stations, iTunes University, IRCPL.ORG, and other web sites.

Hosted by Dr. Norris J. Chumley (Emmy Award winner, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer), the first hour explores the influence of the Great Migration on Harlem, what it meant to be a “New Negro” in the 1920s, the emergence of new artistic and religious forms in Harlem, and the spiritual connections between the blues and gospel music. In hour two, guests discuss the emergence of the storefront church, the Harlem rent party, musicians’ roots in the church, and improvisation in music and the church service. Guests include Reverend Calvin O. Butts III of Abyssinian Baptist Church; writer Carl Hancock Rux; pianist and composer Courtney Bryan; and scholars Farah Griffin, Josef Sorett, and Obery M. Hendricks Jr., and others. The episodes feature the voices of Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, plus music by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, and Mahalia Jackson, and more.

Emily Brennan

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