Black Composers

Jester Hairston | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Jester Hairston.  Jester Hairston 1901-2000 Jester Hairston was an American actor, composer, songwriter, arranger, choral conductor, Goodwill Ambassador, and expert on Spirituals. He was born in Belews Creek, North Carolina, the grandson of a slave,…  Read More

William Banfield | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer William Banfield.  William Banfield b. 1961 William Banfield is an award-winning African American composer whose symphonies, operas, and chamber works have been performed and recorded by major symphonies across the country. He received his Bachelor…  Read More

Joel Thompson | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Joel Thompson. Joel Thompson b.1988 Joel Thompson is an Atlanta composer, pianist, conductor, and educator best known for his choral work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed which was premiered in November 2015 by the University…  Read More

Michael Abels | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Michael Abels. Michael Abels b. 1962 Michael Abels is best-known for his scores for the Oscar-winning film GET OUT, and for Jordan Peele’s US, for which Abels won the World Soundtrack Award, the Jerry Goldsmith…  Read More

Rollo Dilworth | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Rollo Dilworth. Rollo Dilworth b.1970  Rollo Dilworth is an American choral composer, arranger, conductor, and music educator best-known for his contemporary choral arrangements of African American spirituals. As a young boy growing up in St.…  Read More

Robert Harris | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Robert Harris. Robert Harris b.1938 The African American composer and educator Robert A. Harris, is best-known for his choral settings of sacred and secular texts. Dr. Harris received his education from Wayne State University in…  Read More

Alvin Singleton | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Alvin Singleton.  Alvin Singleton b.1940 Alvin Singleton is an African-American composer and educator known for his prolific compositions for orchestra, theatre, and chamber ensembles. Singleton was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended New York…  Read More

Lena McLin | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Lena McLin. Lena McLin b. 1928 Lena McLin, known as the woman who launched a thousand careers, is an African American musician, music teacher, author, pastor, and composer. McLin earned a Bachelor’s degree in music,…  Read More

Duke Ellington | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Duke Ellington. Duke Ellington 1899-1974 Considered one of the greatest jazz composers of all time, Duke Ellington had an enormous impact on the popular music of the late 20th century. Born in Washington D.C. in…  Read More

William Dawson | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer William Dawson. William Dawson 1899-1990 William Dawson was a leading African-American arranger of spirituals as well as a distinguished choral conductor. At age 13, Dawson ran away from home to enter Tuskegee (Institute) University. He…  Read More

Hogan

Moses Hogan | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Moses Hogan.   Moses Hogan 1957-2003 Moses Hogan was a leading arranger of African-American spirituals, as well as a talented pianist and conductor. Beginning at an early age, Hogan studied piano and was immersed in…  Read More

Barnwell

Ysaÿe M. Barnwell | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Ysaÿe M. Barnwell. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell b. 1946 The composer and singer Ysaÿe M. Barnwell writes meaningful music that choirs love to sing. After studying violin for fifteen years and majoring in music in high…  Read More

Brown

Uzee Brown Jr. | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Uzee Brown Jr. Uzee Brown Jr. b. 1950 The music of Uzee Brown Jr. is performed by choirs around the world. A native of Cowpens, South Carolina, Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse…  Read More

Burleigh

Harry T. Burleigh | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Harry T. Burleigh. Harry T. Burleigh 1866-1949 The skilled composer and talented singer Harry Burleigh was a pioneering arranger of concert spirituals for solo voice and piano. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Burleigh studied piano, voice,…  Read More

Hall Johnson | Musical Moments with Philip Brunelle

In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Hall Johnson. Hall Johnson 1888-1970 Hall Johnson was one of a number of African American composers and arrangers who elevated the spiritual to an art form. Johnson received an extensive education, including time at the…  Read More