History of the Spiritual

History of the Spiritual

Sunday, March 3 | 7-8:30 PM

Artsville, Madisonville; Cincinnati, OH

Spiritual Cover EN

Learn about the history of the American Spiritual and its oral tradition with a performance and demonstration by a small ensemble of American Spiritual Ensemble singers. Community partners serving the Black community are invited to exhibit and share their resources as we seek to create impact in Greater Cincinnati.

7-7:30pm: Exhibition of Community Partners
7:30-8:30pm: Lecture Recital presented by the American Spiritual Ensemble
8:30pm: Closing Comments by Denisha Porter, Executive Director of All-In Cincinnati

Exhibiting Community Partners
All-In Cincinnati
Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library

Cincinnati NAACP
Cincinnati Public Radio/Classics for Kids
National Commission for Black Arts & Entertainment

Xavier Jesuit Academy

The American Spiritual Ensemble was founded in 1995 in order to maintain and honor the music pioneered by enslaved African people. ASE is a critically-acclaimed ensemble that is dedicated to performing provocative, dynamic concerts around the world celebrating the American negro spiritual. Additionally, ASE frequently visits educational institutions in order to teach students about the history and traditions of enslaved people in America and their spirituals. ASE also presents master classes, television performances, radio performance, and interviews on the music of the American negro slave. 

The mission of the American Spiritual Ensemble is to preserve and continue the tradition of storytelling through the performance and preservation of the American negro spiritual. Performing these spirituals serves as a tribute to the many lives lost or destroyed during slavery in the United States; a horrible time for human kind. These songs, a combination of African, American, and European traditions, create a new type of melody in which a sense of identification was created within the enslaved community. These songs now stand as a testament of the strength found through faith during times of hardship as well as a unifying force among all peoples. These songs are beloved all around the world.

Dr. Everett McCorvey, tenor, is the founder and director of the American Spiritual Ensemble. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, he received his degrees from the University of Alabama, including a Doctorate in Musical Arts. Vocal Excellence is a hallmark of Dr. McCorvey’s work. As a teacher, he has given master classes and vocal workshops throughout the United States, Europe, South America, China, Japan, and Poland. Dr. McCorvey is the founder and Music Director of the American Spiritual Ensemble. McCorvey recently produced a CD Anchored in the Lord featuring singers from the Bay View Music Festival’s American Negro Spirituals Intensive Program, where McCorvey serves as Director.

His career has spanned all areas of the performing arts industry, from performing to musical directing, vocal teaching, producing, impresario, conducting, union representing, administrative work, and mentoring.

Dr. McCorvey is of the belief that every citizen in the country should find ways to give back to his or her community, city, or country. He has been very active in his volunteer activities working to keep the arts as a part of the civic conversation and currently serves on many local, regional, and national boards. He holds an Endowed Chair in Opera Studies/Director of Opera and Professor of Voice at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

Dr. McCorvey is also entering his seventh season as the Artistic Director of the National Chorale of New York City. Celebrating over 50 years of great choral singing, the National Chorale is a symphonic choir which performs at Lincoln Center in New York City. The National Chorale is well-known in New York and around the region for its performances of the great choral titans as well as for the popular New York Messiah Sing-In at Lincoln Center! The Sing-In is one of the oldest sing-in’s in the country.

Denisha Porter currently serves as Executive Director of the All-In Cincinnati Equity Coalition at Greater Cincinnati Foundation. The 150+ member Coalition is working to dismantle racial inequities in health, housing, education, economic mobility and justice, with the goal to uplift Black women in Hamilton County. All-In Cincinnati seeks to co-create and implement an equity action plan to transform our tristate community, and Porter is the driving force leading the coalition’s work to shape that vision. With over 15 years of experience in community engagement, community mobilization, and coalition building, Porter is responsible for directing policy and advocacy actions promoting the All-In Cincinnati mission; building strong relationships with local nonprofits, city officials, government agencies and community partners; and facilitating meetings, communications and recruitment with the All-In Cincinnati Core Team and Coalition members. With a current size of 60-90 members in attendance at monthly meetings, All-In Cincinnati leaders provide feedback on racial equity initiatives. All-In Cincinnati is examining barriers that impede collaboration between the for profit and non-profit sectors and city and county governments to build a more equitable Hamilton County.

Listen to the American Spiritual Ensemble


Mar 03 2024


7:00 pm - 8:45 pm



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