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New York tribute to Roland Carter celebrates 100 years of spiritual songs

Roland M. Carter, Holmberg Professor of Music at UTC, composer, arranger, conductor and current president of the 86 year-old National Association of Negro Musicians, has been featured this month in a festival of spirituals at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church. Abyssinian’s expanded choirs, hosted by The Forever Amen Choral Ensemble, have performed Carter’s arrangements at 9 a.m.worship services each Sunday. The tribute culminated with a full concert conducted by Carter and Roy Jennings (Assistant Minister of Music at Abyssinian Baptist Church) on July 24.

Abyssinian’s pastor, Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III said, "spirituals link African-Americans to their past. They touch our deeply held faith and remind us that God is with His children yesterday, now and for all eternity. "Our ‘Salute to Roland Carter’ also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of spirituals to Black church congregations."

Butts added, "The Fisk Jubilee Quartet was first to tour spirituals from the Fisk college campus to churches in Black communities in 1905. That same year, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were also first to record spirituals for all America to hear. We are honored to present this musical tribute to celebrate Dr. Carter’s significant contributions to a music genre that has endured time and continues to be cherished and appreciated."

The Abyssinian Baptist Church was founded in 1808 by a group of Ethiopian merchants who refused to accept racially segregated seating at The First Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. Accompanied by free African-Americans, they organized to form The Abyssinian Baptist Church. Abyssinian, the ancient name for Ethiopia, is the oldest Black Baptist congregation in the state of New York. The church has had esteemed ministers such as Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Dr. Samuel Dewitt Proctor. Abyssinian is a church with a vision to build the Harlem community and continues the long tradition of spiritual growth, community development and empowerment.

July 26, 2005

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