African-American choral music grew out of the oral tradition of spirituals that was created by African slaves. These songs, influenced by Christianity and rooted in African culture, expressed the hardship and hope of African slaves in the United States. This distinct genre was the antecedent to shouts, the blues, gospel music and other genres. The tradition has faded in recent times, but the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore was organized “to preserve and promote the sacred music tradition of the African American Church.”
The group of 150 singers was founded by Dr. Marco Merrick and is comprised of individuals from different racial, cultural, ethnic, denominational and economic segments of the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. In an effort to make their music relevant and accessible, the choir performs free concerts in churches, museums, schools and other public venues. As part of their outreach program, they “raise funds to benefit community programs that support children, youth, educational and cultural enrichment for under-served segments of the community.”
“The African American Church tradition has cultivated a broad spectrum of music which our forebears shaped their existence in America ‘a strange land’ and fostered faith through song. They survived the horrific middle passage of the slave trade and stamped their inimitable legacy in the souls of succeeding generations. Spirituals inspire each era, spanning slavery, American Revolution, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow Laws, the Civil Rights movement and the modern day…” The Community Concert Choir of Baltimore is committed to celebrating the strength and hope that this body of repertoire represents for a new generation.