Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.


Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions

Born in slavery and nurtured within the black church, African American sacred music records a people's struggle to survive and the longing to be free. African American sacred music blended a variety of musical forms and performance traditions, including spirituals, ring dancing, hymns, Pentecostal shouting, quartet singing, and gospel. In giving voice to the continued struggle for freedom, sacred music profoundly influenced the development not only of African American communities but also of mainstream
popular culture. Adapted from the Peabody Award-winning, twenty-six-part series of the same name that aired on National Public Radio in 1994, Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions offers the first comprehensive overview of the legacy of African American sacred music in exhibition form.

Exhibition organizer Bernice Johnson Reagon, a curator emeritus at the National
Museum of American History, is a preeminent historian of African American sacred music, founder of the internationally acclaimed a cappella quintet Sweet Honey In The Rock, a MacArthur Fellow, and the recipient of a 1995 Presidential medal for outstanding contributions to public understanding of the humanities. Bernice Johnson Reagon's book, We'll Understand it Better By and By, is available from Smithsonian Institution Press.

Wade in the Water was made possible through the generous support of Nissan
North America. Additional support has been provided by the National Museum of American, Smithsonian Institution; the Smithsonian Institution Special Exhibition Fund; The Smithsonian Institution Educational Outreach Fund; The Sparrow Foundation; and The Links, Incorporated.

This Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibition toured from 1996-2003.




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