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400 Years of African American Music History

  • Wednesday, September 7, 2022
  • 3:15 PM–4:30 PM
  • Calvin Chapel
  • No Charge

This free, four-week CALL course covers African American music history from the late 1600s to the present, focusing on the relationship between historical events and the evolution of four distinctive musical genres: spirituals, blues, jazz, and gospel.

Special offer: Anyone who has never been a member of CALL and registers for this course will not only receive this course for free but will also receive a complimentary one-year trial membership to CALL ($40 value).

  1. New to CALL? Start by creating an account. (Current or former CALL members: Login here.)
  2. After you create a new account or log in, you will be directed to the course registration page. Select fall 2022 semester courses, search subject = music, choose the in-person or online course, and follow the check-out instructions.
  3. For new members: Within two business days, your complimentary CALL membership will be activated and you can register for additional courses ($30 each) if you wish.

This course explores the profound relationships between specific events in African American history since the 1600s and the genres of music that evolved in response to those events: music that brought solace, built communities, and gave voice to hope during periods of enslavement and great suffering. Instructors:

  • Fred Johnson, professor of history, Hope College
  • Nate Glasper, director, Calvin University Gospel Choir
  • Debra Perry, music educator, Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Duane Shields Davis, former instructor of vocal jazz, Western Michigan University; director of vocal music, Grand Rapids Community College; chorus master, Opera Grand Rapids

Class participants are invited to attend a performance of the Calvin University Gospel Choir to conclude this course. Each song will be introduced by a succinct description of its historical context. This concert on Saturday, October 1, 7 p.m., Covenant Fine Arts Center is free and open to the general public.

Both the class periods and the concert are available in person or live online. All sessions are also recorded, and all registered students will receive the recording links. 


This project is funded in part by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Learn more about Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning opportunities and browse the fall course catalogue for 31 in-person and 9 online course offerings.

September 2022
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