A Conversation with Uzee Brown of Morehouse College
Listen to this March 11, 2020, conversation between Uzee Brown, Jr., legendary composer and educator, and John D. Witvliet, held during a visit to Calvin University.
10 Video Clips
Below are video clips (link on each title) from the half-hour conversation, highlighting key periods in the formation and life of Dr. Uzee Brown. Dr. Brown joined the faculty in 1973 and currently serves as Chair of the Division of Creative and Performing Arts at Morehouse College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College, a Master of Music in Composition from Bowling Green State University, and a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan.
He has received numerous composition and arranging commissions ranging from National Public Radio and the Atlanta Symphony to colleges, universities, church and civic organizations, and his compositions have been heard throughout the world, including Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. His engagements include master classes, workshops and recitals of African-American music from work songs and spirituals to art songs. Additionally, Dr. Brown served for several years as the director of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church Choir.
1. Influence of Wendell P. Whalum
- Wendell P. Whalum was the director of the Morehouse College Glee Club. Read more about Wendell P. Whalum and Robert Shaw.
- Watch and listen to the Morehouse College Glee Club sing “We Shall Overcome."
2. Growing up in Cowpens, South Carolina
- Uzee Brown, Jr. grew up in Cowpens, South Carolina. He speaks about the spirituals “Travelin’ Shoes,” “Sweep Clean Mary," and writing an arrangement of the song “I’m Buildin’ Me A Home” which was later used in the Spike Lee movie School Daze.
3. Arranging Spirituals Well
- On the importance of arranging a spiritual so that it brings the multi-layered text to life.
4. Lesser Known Spirituals
- Learn more about Hall Johnson and Eugene Simpson.
- Listen to the Nathaniel Dett Chorale sing “The Chariot Jubilee."
5. Uzee Brown Society of Choraliers
- Uzee Brown speaks of his belief that functional music is an expression and reflection of life and that it can be both prophetic and healing.
- Read about Holocaust survivor Philip Markowicz.
- Learn more about Burton Beerman’s composition and watch the Uzee Brown Society of Choraliers performance of Tikvah – A Concert of Hope.
6. Music and the Church
- The unique gifts of music in the church and the role of music in the worship experience.
7. GIA Publications, Inc. and Accessibility
- GIA Publications, Inc. has published Uzee Brown and a wide variety of other artists' compositions.
8. Prophetic Words for Today’s Morehouse Students
- Dr. Uzee Brown challenges current Morehouse College students about creating or working for something that has a greater global impact on spirituality and a cultural unity. Learn more about Morehouse College.
9. We Shall Overcome with Atlanta Symphony
- In commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 70th birthday, Uzee Brown was commissioned to write an arrangement of “We Shall Overcome.” It premiered on January 18, 1999, with the Atlanta Symphony.
- Listen to Uzee Brown’s arrangement of “We Shall Overcome."
10. Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Family
- Dr. Brown shares about his work at Ebenezer Baptist Church and the legacy of the King Family.
- Read more about Coretta Scott King and the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Family.