Skidmore Saratoga Memory Project
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Harry T. Burleigh: A Commemoration

An exhibition in honor of the 150h anniversary of the birth of African-American baritone and composer Harry T. Burleigh, prepared by the Music Department at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with attention to the singer's time in the Spa City.


Explanatory Text, "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"
Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Harry T. Burleigh, 1917

Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries

The plantation songs known as “spirituals” are the spontaneous outbursts of intense religious fervor, and had their origin chiefly in camp meetings, revivals and other religious exercises.  …. It is a serious misconception of their meaning and value to treat them as “minstrel” songs, or to try to make them funny by a too literal attempt to imitate the manner of the Negro in singing them….
Their worth is weakened unless they are done impressively, for through all these songs there breathes a hope, a faith in the ultimate justice and brotherhood of man…. The message is ever manifest that eventually deliverance from all that hinders and oppresses the soul will come, and man—every man—will be free. 

-- Harry T. Burleigh, 1917