Recording artist and goodwill ambassador of the African American spirituals, Calvin Earl, brings his one-man show “Gifts from My Ancestors” to Penn State Harrisburg Thursday, Feb. 4 at 12:30 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public. For information, phone 717-948-6273.
An installment in the college’s Black History Month observance, Earl’s lecture will focus on the historical significance of spirituals of the past as well as their importance today.
Considered a musical prodigy by the age of nine, Earl has his own live weekly radio program while still a child. He toured the South performing with the legendary Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and during his tour of duty in the military, he formed his own five-piece rhythm and blues band, The Elements of Peace.
In 2005, deeply concerned that the African American spirituals were continuing to be neglected and persistently mistaken and misunderstood, he became a self-appointed spokesman for the music created by his ancestors. His efforts were rewarded in 2007 when the U.S. Congress officially recognized and honored African American spirituals as a “national treasure.” His “Gifts from My Ancestors” expresses that commitment.
He is currently completing his first book, I’m Gonna Tell, about his journey to ensure the preservation of the spirituals as a National Treasure. Through his performances and lectures, he continues his effort to ensure the African American spiritual and the oral history of slaves are included in our current educational curriculum. He is also pursuing his dream of building the nation’s first National Spiritual House.
Earl has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center as well as at schools, universities, and other venues throughout the East Coast. He recently released his second CD entitled Gratitude, a collection of African American spirituals specifically recorded to help teachers and students experience the music created by the African peoples enslaved in America.