African-American spiritual music became a tremendously popular genre during the opening decades of the 20th century. The songs became a staple for American performers of all ethnicities as the music crossed from the folk music sphere into classical and popular music.

At 3:30 p.m. Thursday (July 9), Brian Moon, an associate professor of music at the University of Arizona, will discuss the genre’s popularity in a talk entitled “Spirituals as Artifact and Uplift” at the Arizona Senior Academy.

In this rescheduled installment of the ASA series, “Ethnomusicology: Music in a Cultural Context,” Moon will highlight the work of Harry Burleigh, who is somewhat unknown today but helped promote the songs in all categories and styles.

Among the performers responsible for the spiritual’s success, Harry Burleigh’s work with Antonin Dvorak, Paul Robeson, J.P. Morgan and others allowed him to significantly affect the music of his time. Surveying Burleigh’s experience with the spiritual draws attention to the many ways the songs gained meaning for Americans of the early 20th century and help to clarify the importance of the songs today.

Moon is a musicologist and a specialist in American music. Before completing a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, he earned a Masters in Sacred Music and Choral Conducting from Emory University. His research interests include: Harry Burleigh, the Harlem Renaissance, the spiritual, and white reception of black folk music, among other things.

Join us for Moon’s lecture and hear the uplifting music of century-old African-American spirituals.

Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a non-profit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public. These events are held in the Great Room of The ASA Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center.

Due to the popularity of cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make reservations by email at or by phone at (520) 647-0980. To learn more about the Academy, go to

Written by Sharon Stetz, Academy Village Volunteer


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Mike Maharry

Stories about Academy Village and the Arizona Senior Academy are written by volunteer residents of Academy Village.