June 11: Black Composers – Dennard, 2014

Jon Curtis Season of the Day, SOTD - June

Brazeal Dennard was an African-American singer, educator, choral director, and musical arranger. He has been a significant contributor to the preservation and revitalization of the spiritual musical form. His efforts helped move the African-American spiritual beyond the confines of the church, exposing not only the beauty of this music, but also its historical importance to a wider audience.

Links: Hal Leonard Publishing - Brazael Dennard
Wikapedia - Brazael Dennard
 

Notes on the text from Dr. Rosephanye Powell: 

“Hush” is to tell those weeping for us during sickness or dying to stop weeping because there is joy in dying. The verse “soon one morning, death come creeping in my room” was something the slave longed for and welcomed because it meant freedom from slavery. There is a verse that says “sounds like Jesus” and that refers to the fact that they are truly saved and Jesus is calling them home. Relative to slavery in a sociological context, “hush” was an indication to keep quiet and listen because a conductor in the Underground Railroad was in the area and whatever their signal was (whistling, barking, knocking, tapping on the window) was indicative to the slave’s name being called. Or a list of slaves wishing to escape, including the cabin location could have been provided to the conductor who actually whispered the escapee’s name in close proximity. In this context, the verse “sounds like Jesus” is a way of letting those in the slave community know that a conductor or liberator was in the area.

Hush, hush, somebody’s callin’ my name.
Oh my Lord, oh my Lord, what shall I do?
Sounds like Jesus, somebody’s callin’ my name.
Oh my Lord, oh my Lord, what shall I do?
I’m so glad that trouble don’t last always.
Oh my Lord, oh my Lord, what shall I do?
I’m so glad I got ‘ligion in time.
Oh my Lord, oh my Lord, what shall I do?
Soon one mornin’ death come creepin’ in my room.
Oh my Lord, oh my Lord, what shall I do?