Faculty recital celebrates black religious composers

Dr. Sharon Momany and Valetta Brinson of the Communications, Graphic & Fine Arts Department performed a selection of songs celebrating black religious composers of the 20th century.

Dr. Sharon Momany and Valetta Brinson of the Communications, Graphic & Fine Arts Department performed a selection of songs celebrating black religious composers of the 20th century.

Southwest’s Valetta Brinson and Dr. Sharon Momany performed the religious music of W. C. Handy and other Memphis composers at a Sept. 15 recital at All Saints Episcopal Church. 

Brinson, a soprano who is an associate professor in the Communications, Graphic & Fine Arts Department, was accompanied by Momany, a pianist and adjunct instructor, on a selection of songs celebrating black religious composers of the 20th Century and Memphis’ 200th birthday. “We thought it fitting to celebrate the bicentennial of the incorporation of Memphis as a city by honoring Memphis composers and other religious black composers as a tribute,” Brinson said.

The program began with three religious arrangements by Handy, the famous Blues writer, and included well known mid-century standards such as “Give Me Jesus,” by Hall Johnson, and two arrangements by Dave Ragland: “I Believe,” based on words found written on a wall by a young girl in a German concentration camp during World War II, and “Martin Luther King Jr.”

Among the other composers honored were Earnestine Rogers Robinson, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Brinson was especially proud to introduce the song “Soliloquy” by Sharon J. Willis, who was her choir director in Atlanta, Georgia. “I was honored to sing spiritual art songs from my professor and mentor from Morris Brown College.”