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Astronauts hear UTC professor’s work

When the astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Discovery received their wakeup call at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5, they heard “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” recorded by the New Galveston Heritage Chorale, and arranged by Roland Carter, Holmberg Professor of Music at UTC.

“My friends have always said my arrangement was ‘outer space,’ and I guess they were right!” Carter said.

Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson, a member of the chorale, requested the music.

Carter said “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was often played during the Civil Rights movement.

“It is a kind of fulfillment of what I wanted to do with the song,” Carter said. “Although it is considered by many to be the black national anthem, I feel the text is more universal. I had always hoped it would be heard by a broader audience, because I feel it is a not about black and white, it is a patriotic song.”

Carter’s first arrangement of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was done in 1970. The song actually began as a poem, written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900, when the school principal was asked to speak at Abraham Lincoln’s birthday celebration. Johnson asked his brother, music teacher J. Rosamond Johnson, to use the poem for the basis of a song.

Acknowledging that there is often one arrangement a musician is known for in their career, Carter is most proud that “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is that song for him.

“It has been played by symphonies all over the country,” Carter said.

Listen to the song: Lift Every Voice and Sing
NASA: STS-121 Discovery Home Page

Read the words of the poem the song was based upon.

Track Space Shuttle Discovery in the night sky.

July 7, 2006

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