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Dr. Oral Moses

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Dr. Oral Moses

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Songs of America

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Songs Of America

1. Walk Together Chidren
2. Let Us Break Bread Together
3. Gonna Shout All Over God's Heaven
4. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning!
5. Amazing Grace
6. Ballad of the Black Mother
7. Lit'l Bo
8. Did You Hear When Jesus Rose
9. Zion's Walls
10. Come Sunday
11. Dancing In the Sun (Weedun)
12. The Negro Speaks of Rivers
13. No Mo' Auction Block
14. I've Been In De Storm So Long
15. Ol' Man River (from Show Boat)
16. Song to the Dark Virgin (Hughes)
17. I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' (from Porgy and Bess)
18. Oh, Glory!
19. Ain't Got Time To Die
20. This River (Jahannes)

This recording is, in many respects, a unique and creatively conceived kaleidoscope of American culture presented through the expressions and influences of African Americans. Moses and Floyd offer exceptionally convincing interpretations of each song, with clear understanding of the nature and unique message contained in each. The diverse genres, art songs by African American composers and artful settings of spirituals, also include works written by other Americans who use idiomatically African American musical resources, and whose creative energies have been powerfully influenced by African American folk life. This is a delightful tapestry of works that comprise a cross section of musical personalities and compelling lyrical content.

“This disc is recommended above all to teachers seeking to introduce the spirituals to students, for they ought to respond to Moses' direct, heartfelt readings. But anyone interested in the intersection of the concert-music and African-American traditions should give this a listen.”

James Manheim, All Music Guide

Extreme Spirituals

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Extreme Spirituals
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic with Oral Moses

1. I’m A Rollin’ MP3
2. Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray MP3
3. A Little More Faith In Jesus MP3
4. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child MP3
5. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho MP3
6. Swing Low Sweet Chariot MP3
7. Listen To The Angels Shoutin’ MP3
8. Wayfaring Stranger MP3
9. Great Day MP3
10. Nobody Knows The Trouble I See MP3
11. Oh Freedom MP3
12. Amen MP3

For their 13th album and in their 25th year together, post-punk, art-rock pioneers Birdsongs of the Mesozoic do a 180 degree musical swerve and link up with bass-baritone vocalist Oral Moses, one of the preeminent African-American performers of traditional spirituals. The band demolish all preconceptions about themselves by presenting a program of heavily rearranged, well known African-American spirituals and 19th century art songs. The blend of Birdsongs' cutting-edge instrumentation with the strength and majesty of Moses' voice creates a very unorthodox yet deeply moving sound, which The Noise called, "Totally sublime and deeply moving." This collaboration represents a new experiment from all parties - something of a meeting at the crossroads between two creative parties passing in very different directions. Together they bring these centuries-old songs kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

"One of the most exciting experiments that have been made this year in the world of avant-garde, is the new disc Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, in collaboration with the American baritone singer, Oral Moses."

Rockaxis – Spain

"Extreme Spirituals would be a fascinating experience as an instrumental album, but Moses' vocals are nothing short of genius. Moses avoids the usual emotive approach to gospel shouting in favor of a classical reading a la Paul Robeson that interacts brilliantly with the well crafted arrangements."

Cuneiform Records

"The traditional thread that impacts us reverently, importantly, and beautifully is the powerful vocal performances, interpretations and re-creations of Oral Moses… Moses’ magnificent voice breathes new life and humanity into the music of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, revealing the timeless beauty and relevance of this art form to diverse audiences. Oral Moses’ voice is reminiscent of Paul Robeson’s: big, deep, profound and stirring."

Cuneiform Records

"Moses’ vocal ability is affecting, to say the least; he can sound both terrifyingly powerful and vulnerable, yearning and exposed. The strongest tracks are undoubtedly “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” both somewhat minimalist in instrumentation when compared to the rest of the album. On the former, Moses’ drawn out lamentations are poignantly accompanied by Ken Field’s haunting flute."

Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority

Spirituals In Zion

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Spirituals In Zion
Oral Moses - bass-baritone

1. Nobody knows de trouble I see WAV
2. A little more faith in Jesus

3. And he never said a mumberlin' word
4. Tryin' to get ready
5. Po' pilgrim of sorrow
6. I'm a rollin'
7. Listen to the Angels shouting
8. Ev'ry time I feel the spirit
9. Go down Moses
10. I want to be ready

11. Oh Freedom
12. Deep River
13. Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho
14. ’Tis the old ship of Zion
15. Steal Away
16. Great Day!
17. My Lord, what a mourning

18. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
19. Swing low, sweet chariot WAV

An A capella CD of Nineteen Negro Spirituals by bass-baritone, Oral Moss celebrates the history and strong music tradition of Old Zion Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.

This 135-year-old Zion Baptist Church which was built by enslaved African Americans in 1868 will become a museum to house its history and other African American churches in Georgia.

In an attempt to recapture the true musical sense under which these spirituals 'sprang' into existence all nineteen spirituals were recorded in Old Zion Baptist without any instrumental accompaniment

Oral Moses, bass-baritone and Professor of music at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw GA.

CD release recital and preview is Sunday, October 12, 2003 in the Old Zion Baptist Church.



In 1619, twenty-two persons from different countries and tribes on the continent of Africa, landed in Jamestown, Virginia and were quickly bought and sold into the non-human existence of slavery. From this arduous and painful slave life sprang a poignant and powerful music genre that has become one of the most significant segments of American music in existence. As you listen to this unique recording of unaccompanied Negro Spirituals, bass-baritone, Oral Moses transports you into this deep dark world bondage. Moses' deep resonant voice is well suited to command the strength, power and aesthetic beauty needed to maintain and support the strong tradition and characteristic elements that are so essential and inherent in the Negro Spiritual.

The Negro Spiritual, sometimes referred to as plantation songs, sorrow songs or slave-songs, originated from the innermost being of enslaved Africans who were captured from the West Coast of Africa and transported to the Americas. While in bondage they were forbidden to talk or make musical instruments that they had used in Africa but could sing whatever they felt. The gift of singing became an invaluable tool of expression and a relief from the cruel and brutal existence of a slave-life. It is in these simple African melodies, which, "sprang into existence," where the enslaved Africans expressed their pain, anger, grief, faith and joy. Just as Africans communicated among themselves using drum language in there own countries and tribes, so did the enslaved Africans continue to do in America by using "cries," "hollers," "calls," "shouts," which eventually evolved into spirituals and work songs. To the slave owner, it may have been entertaining to hear the slaves sing these "simple" songs of faith, but for the enslaved person these songs were powerful messages of hope, a way of assuaging their unfortunate plight in life and above all fighting to maintain the most basic form of human dignity that would help them sustain and endure the arduous hardships of a slave existence. These plantation songs united and strengthened the slaves and gave them an abiding faith and strong courage.

These simple melodies still cause people today to examine themselves, tap their toes, clap their hands, shed tears, laugh, dance and shout. This music still has the ability to touch the human spirit and have a lasting effect on one’s emotions and beliefs. The simplicity of the melodies makes room for a singer to improvise during a performance, even if only a single note is added to the original melody "as the spirit moves". This may vary greatly from one performer to another. In it's original form the spiritual was free in form, rhythm, text, and performance styles and allowed for much variation from singer to singer as it was passed on orally. Such characteristic features are typical and unique to the Negro Spirituals. As stated in Slaves Songs In The United States,

"The best that we can do, however, with paper and types, or even with voices, will convey but a faint shadow of the original. The voices of the colored people have a peculiar quality that nothing can imitate; and the intonation and delicate variations of even one singer cannot be reproduced on paper. And I despair of conveying any notion of the effect of a number singing together."

"And what makes it all the harder to unravel a thread of melody out of this strange network is that, like birds, they seem not infrequently to strike sounds that cannot be precisely represented by the gamut, and abound in "slides" from one note to another, and turns and cadences not in articulated notes." "It is difficult to express the entire character of these Negro ballads by mere musical notes and signs. The odd turns made in the throat, and the curious rhythmic effect produced by single voices chiming in at different irregular intervals, seem almost as impossible to place on the score as the singing of birds or the tones of an Aeolian Harp."

This performance of solo-unaccompanied Negro Spirituals is presented in a very unique form that will add greatly to its enjoyment. Moses, with his rich voice, has carefully performed these songs with natural interpretation and precision, which adds much to the simple but beautiful and rich melodies of the African-American culture. One can hear an effective use of a wide vocal range, good diction, precise rhythm and beautiful dynamics.

Anyone who has the desire to sing the Negro Spirituals will find this recording a useful tool for learning. And for those who wish to listen to the music for the sake of satisfying the needs of the spirit and soul, these Negro Spirituals will be the "Balm in Gilead" that will make you whole.

Of the many thousands of Spirituals that is said to exist within this vast body of African-American song literature only nineteen are recorded in this collection. Included here are spirituals that well represent three groups that are commonly use to catalogue these musical jewels. (1) The slow, sustained, long-phrase melody include songs, "Nobody knows de trouble I see," and "My Lord what a mourning," performed with great depths of understanding and feeling. The variations of the melody, the meditative mood and the occasional free rhythm bring out the beauty of the song. Added words and notes are used in certain phrases as a way of personal but effective interpretation. Successful execution of this performance practice is achieved only when the performer has true knowledge and understanding of the song(s). The Spiritual, "I’m trying to get ready," is performed with a steady beat which reminds one of listening to these people singing and stomping their feet on wooden floors of the old country church as they fervently worshipped and praised God. Listen for the sincere desire to "try on my long white robe". (2) The signal songs or "coded" spirituals are those with hidden or double meanings and oft-times coded messages. Such songs were used often among the slaves to signal or give warning to each other of some secret meeting, plan of escape or to avoid capture. Among these songs are, "And He never said a mumbelin’ word," "Go down Moses," "Oh Freedom," and "Steal Away to Jesus."

(3) The "call and response chant" Spirituals with syncopated, segmented melody include, " I want to be ready; or, walk in Jerusalem just like John," " Ev'ry time I feel the spirit moving in my heart I will pray," and "A little more faith in Jesus." He creates a totally different mood with crisp rhythms, syncopation and dynamics, with this well-known call and response form. These lively performances bring out the joy in the singer’s heart and I am sure will be contagious.

The Negro Spirituals are very unique to the American music culture and I thank people like Oral Moses who help to preserve this vital and significant music tradition.

Deep River

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Deep River
Songs and Spirituals of Harry T. Burleigh
Oral Moses -
Ann Sears - piano

1. Deep River
2. Lovely dark and lonely one
3. Dry bones
4. Wade in de water
5. Ethiopia Saluting the Colors, for voice & piano
6. Dove and the lily
7. Exile
8. Stan' still, Jordan
9. Little mother of mine
10. Don't you weep when I'm gone
11. The spring, my dear, is no longer spring
12. Oh! rock me, Julie
13. Soldier, The
14. Mammy's li'l baby
15. Hear de lambs a-cryin'
16. The trees have grown so
17. Thy heart
18. Hard Trials
19. Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel?


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African American Composers of the Twentieth Century
Oral Moses -
George Bailey - piano

1. Go Down Moses
2. There are Angels hoverin' round
3. Oh Mary what you gonna call your pretty little baby
4. Jean
5. He met her in the meadow
6. Sometimes I feel like a motherless Child
7. I don't feel no ways tired
8. Zion Hallelujah
9. Witness
10. Swing dat Hammer
11. Songs of Separation
12. He's got the whole World in His hand
13. Water Boy
14. Borderline
15. It' Me O Lord
16. This little light of Mine
17. Amen


In his second CD recording, bass-baritone Oral Moses offers art songs and spiritual arrangements by African-American composers and arrangers whose work spans the 20th century and spills over into the 21st century. Mr. Moses, a South Carolina native, began his singing career as a member of the United States Seventh Army Soldiers Chorus in Heidelberg, Germany and a member of the famed Fisk Jubilee Singers while attending Fisk University following his military career. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies he was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship which provided him the opportunity to return to Europe for further study in vocal performance and opera. Upon his return to the United States, he attended the University of Michigan where he earned a Masters of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree in vocal performance and opera. He is the co-author of Feel the Spirit: Studies in 19th Century Afro-American Music. He is currently Professor of Voice and Music Literature at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia.

“This is a wonderful and varied collection of work songs, spirituals and art songs. I get a lump in my throat every time I listen to Moses' rendition of "There Are Angels hoverin' round" by Uzee Brown, Jr.”

AfroAmericanHeritage (Wisconsin)


Operatic Experience | Oratorios Experience | Orchestras and Conductors | Recordings | Gospel Spirituals | Buy CDs | Image Gallery | Biography

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