Research Activities

Current Research Activities


NEW! So You Want to Sing Spirituals

So You Want to Sing Spirituals provides a comprehensive introduction to the history and performance of this rich and diverse musical style. Singer and historian Randye Jones explores spirituals’ folk song roots and the music’s transformation to choral and solo vocal concert repertoire. She profiles key composers and pioneers of the genre while also discussing the use of dialect and other controversial performance considerations. Contributed chapters address elements of collaborative piano, studio teaching, choral arrangement, and voice science and health as they apply to the performance of spirituals.

The So You Want to Sing series is produced in partnership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

For pre-order information, visit (use code 7A30AUTHF to receive a 30% discount–limited time only)


Ongoing and Past Research Activities


    • The Spirituals Database offers searchable access to recorded track information for over 4,400 Negro Spiritual settings performed by solo Classical vocalists


    • Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music. That Web site focuses on African American performers and composers and on the vocal music forms they influenced, especially opera, art songs and Negro spirituals composed for concert performance. There are biographies, bibliographies, a chronology, and other information about this music and these musicians


    •  The Art of the Negro Spiritual (ANS), looks into historical and performance aspects of the Negro Spiritual as an art song form. I’ve developed a Web site where I share parts of my research and that I use to network with others interested in spirituals.


Some of the papers and articles available online:


Samplings of my lectures are now available online as presentations.  They are:

A Century of Negro Spirituals for Solo Voice

Survey of some of the historical and contemporary composers and singers who have forged art songs from this powerful American folk music. Features videos of over 30 vocally and interpretatively distinctive concert Spiritual performances–accompanied by short biographies about the composers, musician images, and a discography and music scores bibliography

Interpreting Negro Spiritual Art Songs

Introductory presentation on interpretive and musical elements to consider in performance of Negro Spirituals composed for concert performance. Includes video performance of Spirituals composed by Burleigh ("Deep River"), MacGimsey ("Sweet Little Jesus Boy"), Carter ("Toccata" from Cantata), and Johnson ("Witness")

Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh

Recordings of Negro Spirituals composed by Harry Thacker Burleigh

The Role of the Spiritual in the Civil Rights Movement

Historical review of the American Civil Rights movement and the role Negro Spirituals played within the movement

New research and writing projects will be added. Please check back.