The Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African-American Song is a group of nearly 40 singers committed to promoting the tremendously wide range of experiences expressed in African-American music. The organization’s roots go back to informal gatherings in the 1960s at the home of Edmonia Simmons during college breaks, when a group of singers gathered to sing together. “In 1984, Dr. Lee Norris Mackey, protégé of Simmons, undertook a research project to investigate the programming performance practices, and recordings of African American spirituals by choirs of Historically Black Colleges, and Universities. He found that there had been a significant decline in the performance of spirituals, especially in the Southeast and among Historically Black Colleges and Universities; thus the need, mission, and name of the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song were affirmed.” Dr. Mackey formally establish the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song in 1984.”
“The mission of the Society expanded to include art music of African American composers,” said Roland Carter, director from 1990-2012. “In 1990, the name changed to the Society for the Preservation of African American Song to reflect this expansion.” The Choral Society has a regular season of performances that feature a blended program of African-American music, including art music, out-of-print pieces, old standards, some Gospel, and always some spirituals. The organization is now connected with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.