Onstage: American Spiritual Ensemble

America's musical heritage starts with Negro Spirituals, says Dr. Everett McCorvey, founder and director of the internationally acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble. "I call Spirituals the mother music, an art form truly founded in this country," he say

America’s musical heritage starts with Negro Spirituals, says Dr. Everett McCorvey, founder and director of the internationally acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble.

“I call Spirituals the mother music, an art form truly founded in this country,” he says.

American Negro Spirituals are one of American history’s great ironies. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Go Down, Moses” and “The Battle of Jericho” are among the world’s most beloved melodies, created in the harsh, degrading reality of slavery. We love these songs, but do we really know them.

The ASE (featured prominently in a 2007 PBS special on the art form) aims to set us straight. The ensemble, made up of classically trained singers, makes its first Cincinnati performance Tuesday with a free concert at downtown’s St. Peter in Chains Cathedral. But Dr. McCorvey advises against expecting Gospel numbers.

The American Spiritual Ensemble performs at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Tuesday. Go here to read Anne Arenstein's full interview.

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