The College of Arts and Architecture

African American Music Festival, January 31: Guest Choirs and Singers

African American Music Festival logo
Friday, January 31, 2014 - 2:30pm
Esber Recital Hall - University Park, PA

Free Admission

The African American Music Festival continues with a concert of music by African American composers occurring during the School of Music's Common Hour. The performance features sopranos Elisabeth Stevens and Diane L. White-Clayton, the Cheyney University Concert Choir under the direction of Marques L. A. Garrett, and the Lincoln University Concert Choir conducted by Edryn Coleman.

The African American Music Festival, coordinated by faculty member Anthony Leach, includes concerts by Penn State students, faculty members, and guest artists. All events from Thursday, January 30 - Saturday, February 1 are open to the public. Funding is provided from the University Park Allocation Committee and the Penn State School of Music.


Elisabeth Stevens, soprano

  • Cassandra’s Lullaby ♦ Mark Fax
  • Witness ♦ Jay Fluellen
  • Honor, Honor ♦ arranged by Hall Johnson

Diane L. White-Clayton, soprano

  • Ground Zero ♦ Diane L. White-Clayton (poetry by Earlene White)                                               
  • Medley of Spirituals ♦  arranged by DLWC

Cheyney University Concert Choir

  • Been Prayin’ ♦ Mervyn Warren
  • Don’t You Weep No More, Mary ♦ R. Nathaniel Dett

Lincoln University Concert Choir

  • Bring Me All Your Dreams ♦ Christopher Harris
  • Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord ♦ arranged by Undine Smith Moore

Combined Choirs

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho ♦ arranged by Marques L. A. Garrett

The Cheyney University Concert Choir is the official choral ensemble pf Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. They perform for major on-campus functions as well as travel to neighboring churches and businesses to spread good cheer through music. The choir’s repertoire spans music of Cheyney University Concert Choirover 400 years from early composers such as Thomas Tallis and John Wilbye to living composers such as Roland Carter and Raymond Wise. The choir performs music of various choral genres including standard choral repertoire as well as Negro spirituals. Currently, the choir is under the direction of Marques L. A. Garrett and accompanied by Toni Caldwell-Hall.

Founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is known as the first institution for higher learning for African Americans. The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendents of the African race.Born on a plantation in the West Indies, Richard Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764. Having witnessed the struggles of African Americans competing unsuccessfully for jobs due to the influx of immigrants, he became interested in their plight. In 1829, race riots heightened and it was that year Richard Humphreys wrote his will and charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution: " instruct the descendents of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic Arts, trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers...."

The school began in Philadelphia and successfully provided free classical education for qualified young people. In 1902, the Institute moved to George Cheyney's farm, 25 miles west of Philadelphia. In 1913, the name was changed to Cheyney State Teachers College; in 1921, the State Normal School at Cheyney; and in 1959, Cheyney State College. In 1983, Cheyney joined the State System of Higher Education as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

Today, Cheyney University students represent a variety of races, cultures, and nationalities who receive education instruction beyond the vision of Richard Humphreys. Cheyney graduates still become teachers, but students also enter careers such as journalism, medicine, business, science, law, communication, and government service. The university offers baccalaureate degrees in more than 30 disciplines and the master’s degree in education.

Cheyney University is proud of its more than 10,000 graduates. Well known alumni include journalist Ed Bradley of the CBS program “60 Minutes;” Robert W. Bogle, publisher and CEO of the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest newspaper continuously owned an operated by an African American; Gladys Styles Johnston, Former Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney; Former Congressman Curt Weldon; Former State Representative Michael Horsey; State Representative Thaddeus Kirkland who represents the 159th district in Delaware County; Robert L. Woodson, Founder and President of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (NCNE), Washington, D.C.; Samuel J. Patterson, CEO of Shepard Patterson Systems and Information Consulting Firm; and Ambassador (retired) Joseph M. Segars.

Lincoln University Concert ChoirUnder the direction of Mr. Edryn Coleman, the Lincoln University Concert Choir is a select ensemble of singers. The majority of the singers in the ensemble are undergraduate music majors, membership is open to all students at the university through an audition process. The Concert Choir rehearses four times a week on vocal music with an emphasis on African American tradition. The Lincoln University Concert Choir gives several concerts each semester, and has been invited to perform at choral conventions, the choir has achieved a reputation of excellence on the regional, state, and national level.

Lincoln University is the United States' first degree-granting historically black university. Founded as a private university, since 1972 it is a public institution. It is located near the town of Oxford in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Lincoln University provides undergraduate and graduate coursework to approximately 2,500 students. As former president Dr. Horace Mann Bond noted in his book Education for Freedom: A History of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, with the college's founding in 1854, "This was the first institution founded anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for youth of African descent." The University is a member-school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

The Lincoln University has an impressive list of notable alumni which includes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall; Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes; and musical legend, Cab Calloway. Today, Lincoln University provides a liberal arts and science-based undergraduate core curriculum and select graduate programs to prepare students of every race and nationality.