Today's Musical Offering:
Henry "Harry" Thacker Burleigh (December 2, 1866 – September 12, 1949) was an African-American classical composer, arranger, and professional baritone. He was the first black composer to be instrumental in the development of a characteristically American music, and he helped to make black music available to classically-trained artists both by introducing them to the music and by arranging the music in a more classical form. Burleigh's art song arrangements of spirituals and other powerfully emotional songs were so popular during the late 1910's and 1920's that they became staples of vocal recitals in major cities across the country.
He was also a longtime soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City. There was initially much controversy over his hiring in this affluent, all-white church. J. P. Morgan, a member of the congregation, cast the deciding vote to hire him, and Harry quickly became a friend to many in the congregation. Today, mezzo-soprano Abby Powell sings his arrangement of the spiritual "Wade in the Water."