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:


  • Some of my lectures are now available online as presentations.  They are:
  • Documentary: Rare Gems by the Pioneers of the Concert Spiritual

  • Documentary about concert spirituals categorized by song theme, from sorrow songs to songs of transcendence. Each category is followed by a rare recording.

    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

    A Century of Concert Spiritual Recordings: The Pioneers

    A brief profile of several pioneering composers and performers of the concert spiritual with excerpts from rare historical recordings, from Oscar Seagle’s performance of Burleigh’s “Deep River” and C. Carroll Clark’s performance of Dett’s “I’m So Glad Trouble Don’t Last Alway,” to early recordings by great interpreters such as contralto Marian Anderson, tenor and composer Roland Hayes, and bass-baritone Paul Robeson.

    Interpreting Negro Spiritual Art Songs

    Introduction to interpretive and musical elements of Negro spirituals composed for concert performance. Includes video performance of spirituals by composers H. T. Burleigh (“Deep River” sung by Marian Anderson), Hale Smith (“I Want to Die Easy” sung by Donnie Ray Albert), Robert MacGimsey (“Sweet Little Jesus Boy” sung by Kathleen Battle), John D. Carter (“Toccata” from Cantata sung by Ray Wade, Jr.), and Hall Johnson (“Witness” sung by Leontyne Price)

    Great Voices Singing H. T. Burleigh

    A brief bio on Burleigh is followed by videos of songs “Deep River” (Robert McFerrin), “Go Down Moses” (Burleigh), “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (Dame Nellie Melba), “By an’ By” (Roland Hayes), “Heaven, Heaven” (Marian Anderson), “Balm in Gilead” (Paul Robeson), “Were You There” (Sherrill Milnes), “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray” (Martina Arroyo), “I’ve Been in de Storm So Long” (Barbara Hendricks), and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” (Lawrence Brownlee)

    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. I’m also posting research on ResearchGate. Please check back for updates.