Rosephanye Powell Rediscovers The African American Spiritual on “Motherless Child”

Singer/songwriter Rosephanye (pronounced ro-SEH-fuh-nee) Powell makes a powerful debut with the hauntingly beautiful and spiritually nutritious “Motherless Child” (Inkhorn Music). “Motherless Child” is a concentrated, ten song rediscovery and reinterpretation of the African American Spiritual based on a sonic tapestry representing the full measure of the African American musical legacy from its source in Africa straight through to that “peculiar institution” of American slavery and the African American work-songs that evolved from it to Gospel, Jazz, Soul and R&B. The CD is in digital release and can be purchased at CDBABY and at itunes.

Rosephanye is unusually well qualified to understand the traditions and backstory of the African-American spiritual … she holds a Doctorate in Music for Vocal Performance and is a Professor of Voice in the Department of Music at Alabama’s Auburn University. Rosephanye is not a professor who sings, but a singer who also happens to be a professor, which is a very nimble combination.

“The African-American spiritual expressed our people’s personal desires as well as religious beliefs. It was as much social as it was religious coming out of the African tradition that all of life is sacred because all of life involves the spirit of beings. As you may know, during slavery times, the separation of life into distinct religious and secular activities, was a European phenomenon. As time moved on, the uplifting message of Gospel music began to be embraced by a growing number of Black churches as “forward thinking” while spirituals were considered to be for the “backward thinking.”  Thus began the neglect of these songs by the Black church and community,” Rosephanye says.

With the release of “Motherless Child,” The African-American Spiritual will no longer be neglected, but embraced … embraced and celebrated with sweet appreciation, because of the talent and dedication of Rosepahnye Powell.

About Rosephanye Powell
Rosephanye Powell is an internationally recognized composer and arranger of classical choral music and African-American spirituals.  As the nation’s most published African-American female composer of choral music, her works have been published by major choral music publishers, including the Hal Leonard Corporation (the nation’s leading music publisher), Gentry Publications (Tarzana, CA), Alliance Music (Houston, TX), and Oxford University Press (London, England).  As an artist-educator, she has traveled around the country presenting recitals, lecture-recitals, concerts, presentations, and workshops on the African-American spiritual and its role in the slave culture.  In May, Dr. Powell was honored as a recipient of the “Living Legend Award” during the 2009 African Diaspora Sacred Music Living Legends Festival presented by African Diaspora Sacred Music Program of California State University, Dominguez Hills, and the Music Department of El Camino College.

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