First Parish Unitarian Universalist to host U.S. Slave Song Project

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Editor’s note: The headline for this story in the June 18 print edition incorrectly identified the hosting church as the United Church of Christ. The correct host and venue is First Parish Unitarian Universalist. The Canton Citizen editorial staff apologizes for this oversight.

The public is welcome to a special service in song and story to be presented by the United States Slave Song Project, led by James (Jim) E. Thomas, on June 21 at 10:30 a.m. at First Parish Unitarian Universalist, 1508 Washington Street in Canton.

fpuu slave song

Jim Thomas, director of the U.S. Slave Song Project

The U.S. Slave Song Project (USSSP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about authentic U.S. slave songs. Slave songs, also known as Negro spirituals, are true American folk music. They were sung by slaves between 1619 and 1865, when the last slaves were freed. After emancipation, there were no new spirituals.

Unlike gospel music, no spirituals were composed. Slaves sang them to ease their work, to communicate with each other, to remember their home in Africa, and to imagine freedom and a better day.

The U.S. Slave Song Project sponsors educational, musical presentations for all kinds of organizations and events: schools, libraries, churches, community groups, businesses, multicultural celebrations, and more. Ample opportunity is provided for questions and discussion.

Jim Thomas is founder and president of the U.S. Slave Songs Project. He serves as principal narrator for events and as director of the Spirituals Choir. He has given presentations in Germany, Brazil, Austria, Sweden, Africa, and various locations across the United States. Since 1976 he has been the founder-director of the American Red Cross Chorus at Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C. He has also recruited and directed military choirs in Vietnam and Germany.

For more information, please contact First Parish at 781-828-0296 or the Rev. Beverly Boke at 339-201-1211. Information about the U.S. Slave Song Project can be found on their website, usslavesongproject.com.

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