INTRODUCING THE DOROTHY COTTON JUBILEE SINGERS
The Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers (DCJS) was founded in 2010 by Dr. Baruch Whitehead, associate professor of music education at Ithaca College, and is dedicated to the preservation of the "Negro Spirituals." This group of community singers, directed by Dr. Whitehead, was named in honor of current Ithaca resident Dorothy Cotton, civil rights pioneer who served as education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Currently, the DCJS perform at two semi-annual concerts, as invited participants for numerous community events and organizations (in both Ithaca and beyond), and as part of formal programs at Ithaca College and Cornell University. The programs at Ithaca College and Cornell have often been in conjunction with celebrations of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and Black History Month.
While the main focus of the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers is to share the music of the "Negro Spirituals" with others, there is a substantial educational piece that is woven into the fabric of our singing. At our concerts, our director Baruch Whitehead often introduces the different songs with narration about their hidden meanings, history, or significance to enslaved Africans of the time. Sometimes we have a more formal presentation of some aspect of the history of the spirituals. For example, at our May, 2012 concert, Paula E. F. Younger presented a narrative about the connection between the words of some of the spirituals with the Underground Railroad, which offered a secret route to freedom in the North for African slaves; she did another presentation about Sojourner Truth in connection with a song featuring her words, which the DCJS performed at the Ithaca College program celebrating Black History Month on February 22, 2013.
Participation in the DCJS also serves as an educational opportunity for numerous Ithaca College students who have been part of the singing group since the fall of 2012. Some have conducted songs for our concerts, some have made original arrangements for us to sing, some have sung solos, some have helped with weekly rehearsals by providing voice lessons before rehearsals or running sectionals during rehearsals that facilitate our learning of new songs. While not formally connected to our group, children from the Southside Afterschool Music Program presented a concert in connection with our Spring Concert at Southside in April 2013. Finally, the diversity of the membership of the chorus encourages interaction among individuals of varying ages, heritage, and backgrounds. All of the singers in the DCJS look forward to continuing our educational role in connection with this powerful music. In addition, we look forward to learning more about how we could make a meaningful contribution to the work of the CUMEP in the Ithaca area.
MORE ABOUT THE
DOROTHY COTTON JUBILEE SINGERS
The DCJS prepare for a concert
A short biography of Dorothy Cotton
The DCJS perform "No Mo"