Dr. Ysaÿe Barnwell Community Sing

I have three degrees in speech pathology
and I have another degree in public health but music has always been in my
life my father was a violinist and when I was two and a half I got my first
violin and that’s when I started to play and I played and studied all through
high school I sang with a choir a madrigal group all through college and
picked up the guitar and started singing folk music and so I guess I’ve been
singing longer than I played the violin actually mostly I work with people who
don’t read music because they think they can’t sing I call this a community sing
because I invite the community to come the thing that people say first is oh, I
can’t read music and I’m like well we don’t have any for you to read just
come I’ll sing to you sing back to me there’ll be other people there and we’ll
put it all together and we’ll really have a good time people who direct choirs etcetera feel like they have to learn to read music first before they can sing in
their choirs and I’m saying no no they can start singing now in parts without
the written note I find that I go to a lot of different communities now and
just sort of get people to sing in harmony in large groups
it sort of frees th e environment so that they know that they can do it and so
that if they decide they want to learn to read music that’s fine and you know
they can do it but at least that barrier is broken I performed for 34 years with
a group called sweet honey in the rock which was an acapella group of five
women I think that’s where I really really fell in love with with harmony
and with arranging there was no note that passed between us no physical
written note every performance was was different we had the freedom to
improvise and to harmonize and to put things in that reflected how we felt in
the moment but I also want to teach people about African-American music and want them to understand the journey that we’ve been
on and that there is a relationship between the spiritual and hip-hop we
communicate with each other through these songs if we start at with the very
first spiritual that might have been written which I don’t know what that was
but I’m sure it talked about this change experience this restricted environment
this journey that people took for months coming across came together on
the water and so other people are starting to understand how necessary it
is that we as black people utilize music as a way of documenting where we are at
every moment in time some people may not like the style but we are in that same
process that process has never changed and we’ve never forgotten it and so we
continue to do that music changes the way other things change but that process
is still the same everybody should do this we’ve just crossed the boundary
where people used to sing in communities people used to sing at union meetings
you know we used to sing in camp we don’t do those things anymore the whole
technology has made it useless and in a sense to get together because now we
can do it so fast you can talk to each other so fast but we’re missing this
kind of human interaction I’m hoping that we’re able to begin to regenerate
the song the singing of songs together in public


  1. Stephanie Finley said:

    Thank you

    February 22, 2019
  2. Lucy Nova said:

    Thank you some much! You are my inspiration 😘🙏🙏God Bless you!,,,

    April 25, 2019
  3. Susi Potter said:

    Hoping to come back to one of your workshops in MA!

    July 2, 2019

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