Lift Ev'ry Voice: Celebrating the Music of Black Americans

April Events Poster



The Eileen Southern Initiative was pleased to announce a series of events honoring pioneering music scholar Eileen Southern (1920-2002), the first Black woman tenured at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.


The Aeolians of Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL), an award-winning choral ensemble, traveled to Cambridge April 7-9, 2022, for a weekend residency. The group was founded in 1946 by Eva Beatrice Dykes, a professor of English at Oakwood who in 1921 had become the first Black woman to earn a doctoral degree from Radcliffe College (the women's college affiliated with Harvard).


A webinar, concert, masterclass, and community sing in Southern's honor helped to share her story and to continue her work of celebrating the rich legacy of Black music in the United States.



Thursday April 7, 2022


Webinar “Black Music and the American University: Eileen Southern’s Story”

4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m | Watch the recording here


Portrait of Eileen Southern, 1986
Eileen Southern, 1986. Courtesy Lilian Kemp Photography.

Marva Griffin Carter, Georgia State University

Guthrie P. Ramsey, University of Pennsylvania

Braxton D. Shelley, Yale University

Carol J. Oja, Harvard University











Aeolians choral group in concert attire
The Aeolians of Oakwood University

Friday April 8, 2022


Pre-concert Conversation

7:00 p.m.–7:40 p.m | Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall



Emmett G. Price III, moderator

Felicia Barber

Marques L. A. Garrett

Devon Gates

Rosephanye Dunn Powell



8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. | Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall

The Aeolians of Oakwood University, Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, and Harvard Choruses


The program featured premieres of works by Marques L. A. Garrett and Rosephanye Powell in honor of Eileen Southern.


Watch the recording of the pre-concert conversation and concert here:


Read the program book here.


Saturday April 9, 2022


Voice Masterclass

9:00 a.m. | Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall

Co-sponsored by National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Boston


Community Sing

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. | Sciene Center Plaza Tent

Co-sponsored by the Office for the Arts, Harvard Common Spaces, and the Massachusetts American Choral Directors' Association


This family-friendly event encouraged participants to experience the joy of singing together with community members and over 250 singers from the Aeolians, Kuumba Singers, and Harvard Choruses. Five renowned choral directors led participants through a program of songs from our country’s greatest choral tradition: the music of Black Americans. Selections included well-known songs and short, easy-to-learn pieces that the conductors taught to participants.



Felicia Barber

Jason Max Ferdinand

Marques L. A. Garrett

Brandon Waddles


Explore the program here.


Eva Beatrice Dykes Radcliffe portrait
Eva Beatrice Dykes, Radcliffe, circa 1917


Eileen Southern Initiative Exhibits


Eileen Southern and the Music of Black Americans

Digital exhibit, ongoing.


Eileen Southern’s Story

Exhibit in Harvard’s Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Richard F. French Gallery, 2nd floor, through Monday, April 11, 2022.



Sponsoring Organizations


Harvard Radcliffe Institute

The Office for the Arts at Harvard

Harvard Department of Music

The Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery

Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities

Harvard Common Spaces

Harvard Library


Questions? Please contact the Eileen Southern Initiative at or call the Department of Music at 617-495-2791.