The Black Man in Song: 18th Century Music & History in Deerfield

The Black Man in Song
Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, MA

The Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert Series will conclude it 2013 season August 25th with a special concert in tribute to Lucy Terry Prince, Deerfield’s 18th century African American resident and America’s first African American poet who was also known for her singing and story telling.

This Sunday, August 25th, is the 267 anniversary of the last of the Indian raids which took place in Deerfield, MA. Known as the 1746 Bars Fight, the event helped to shape the community of 18th century Deerfield’s relationship with their Native American neighbors. The event is chronicled in the only surviving work of Lucy Terry Prince, a notable African-American poet, songwriter, and storyteller of early Deerfield. A former slave, Prince’s unusual life has become an important part of western Massachusetts folklore.

At this week’s Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert, Prince’s life and work will be celebrated in song, marking the first annual Lucy Prince Tribute. Titled The Black Man in Song, the concert will include both traditional and contemporary music, including a commissioned piece based on letters written by George Washington Carver. Songs will be performed by tenor Irwin Reese and pianist Julia Bady, and the concert will take place in the Victorian Music Room of the Memorial Hall Museum, allowing concertgoers to enjoy historic surroundings while celebrating the village’s past.

While 18th century music may not be the typical favorite genre of most kids, the concert presents a unique musical lens to learn about American history. Older students who have some preexisting knowledge about early American history and the Revolutionary War can expand their learning with specific historical details through song, and will be able to broaden their understanding of artistic expression in early America…

Participants can listen during the concert for interesting lyrics and sounds, and compare and contrast together the differences between the pieces written during different time periods. Thinking about the role that music played in 18th century life and its role in modern America can also help deepen students’ understanding of early New England. Technology, religion, traditions, resources, and survival skills were all very different in the early days of Deerfield. Older students can examine the role that these things played in the culture of western Massachusetts past.

The Black Man in Song will take place at 3pm on Sunday, August 25th. The Memorial Hall Museum is located at 8 Memorial Street in Deerfield. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. For more information, call Old Deerfield at 413-774-3768, ex 10.

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