25 Recommended Recordings of Negro Spirituals for Solo Vocalist

Compiled by Randye Jones

Below is a list of 25 recordings recommended for those beginning a collection of Spirituals. The list is limited (with two exceptions) to recordings available on compact disc.  This list includes a variety of voice types, time periods, interpretative styles, and accompaniment.  Selections were compiled from The Spirituals Database.

Marian Anderson, Contralto

AndersonSpiritSpirituals (1999) RCA Victor Red Seal 09026-63306-2
CD, recorded between 1936 and 1952, with piano

Songs by Hall Johnson, John C. Payne, Harry T. Burleigh, Lawrence Brown, Hamilton Forrest, Robert MacGimsey, Roland Hayes, Florence Price, Edward Boatner, R. Nathaniel Dett

Angela Brown, Soprano

ABrownMosaicMosiac: a collection of African-American spirituals with piano and guitar (2004) Albany Records TROY721
CD, variously with piano, guitar

Songs by Angela Brown, Undine Smith Moore, Moses Hogan, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Betty Jackson King, Roland Hayes, Joseph Joubert

Todd Duncan, Baritone

Todd Duncan Sings Spirituals (1952)  Allegro ALG3022
LP, with piano

Songs by J. Rosamond Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, Lawrence Brown, William C. Hellman, Edward Boatner

Denyce Graves, Mezzo-soprano

Angels Watching Over Me (1997) NPR Classics CD 0006
CD, variously with piano, chorus, a cappella

Songs by Hall Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, Marvin Mills, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Shelton Becton, Roland Hayes, Robert MacGimsey

Roland Hayes, Tenor

Favorite Spirituals (1995) Vanguard Classics OVC 6022
CD, with piano

Songs by Roland Hayes

Barbara Hendricks, Soprano

Give Me Jesus (1998) EMI Classics 7243 5 56788 2 9
CD, variously with chorus, a cappella

Songs by Moses Hogan, Roland Hayes, Edward Boatner, Harry T. Burleigh

Benjamin Matthews, Baritone

A Balm in Gilead (2000) Ebony Classic Recordings ECR 0001
CD, with piano

Songs by Leo Edwards, Betty Jackson King, Hall Johnson, Florence Price, Edward Boatner, Eva Jessye, Elmer A. Simpson, Lena McLin, Jacqueline Hairston, Margaret Bonds, Willis James, Roland Hayes, Roland Carter, Charles Tindley

Robert McFerrin, Baritone

Deep River and Other Classic Negro Spirituals (1959) Washington WLP 466
LP, with piano

Songs by Hall Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, William Grant Still, William Lawrence

Jessye Norman, Soprano

Spirituals (1990) Philips 416 462-2
CD, variously with piano, chorus, a cappella

Songs by Willis Patterson, Dalton Baldwin, Jessye Norman, Thomas Kerr, Jr.

Leontyne Price, Soprano

The Essential Leontyne Price (1996) BMG Classics 09026-68153-2
CD, variously with chorus, orchestra, a cappella

Songs by Harry T. Burleigh, Lawrence Collingwood, Leonard de Paur, Roland Hayes, Margaret Bonds, Hall Johnson, Florence Price, Edward Boatner, Dick Dallas, Robert MacGimsey, William L. Dawson, Fred Hall

Florence Quivar, Mezzo-soprano

Ride On, King Jesus: Florence Quivar Sings Black Music of America (2010) EMI Classics 9 67138 2
CD, variously with piano or chorus

Songs by William Grant Still, Margaret Bonds, Hall Johnson. Robert Nathaniel Dett, Robert MacGimsey

Derek Lee Ragin, Countertenor

Negro Spirituals (2006) Virgin Classics 0946 363305 2 5
CD, variously with piano or chorus

Songs by Moses Hogan, Jester Hairston, R. M. Carter, R. E. Williams, Hale Smith

Paul Robeson, Bass-baritone

Paul Robeson: The Complete EMI Sessions, 1928-1939 (2008) EMI Classics 2 15586 2
CD, variously with piano, orchestra.chorus

Songs by Walter White, James Weldon Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, Ernest Irving, Lawrence Brown, Hall Johnson, Edward Boatner, Ruthland Clapham

Robert Sims, Baritone

Robert Sims Sings the Spirituals of Roland Hayes (2015) Canti Classics 2014-01
CD, variously a cappella, with piano

Songs by Roland Hayes

Darryl Taylor, Countertenor

How Sweet the Sound (2011) Albany TROY1244
CD, with piano

Songs by Betty Jackson King, Harry T. Burleigh, Margaret Bonds, Thomas Kerr, Jr., Jacqueline Hairston, Moses Hogan, Hall Johnson, Hale Smith, Roland Carter, Robert Morris, George Walker, Deon N. Price, Maria Thompson Corley

Louise Toppin, Soprano

He’ll Bring It to Pass: The Spirituals of Hall Johnson for Voice and Piano (2006) Albany Records TROY846
CD, with piano

Songs by Hall Johnson

Various Vocalists

Black Christmas: Spirituals in the African-American Tradition (1990) Essay Recordings CD1011
CD, selections by mezzo-soprano Vanessa Ayers and tenor Thomas Young, variously with piano, chorus

Songs by Hall Johnson, Thomas Young, Wendell Whalum, Willis James, William Dawson, Roland Hayes

Deep River: Featuring 10 Spirituals Arranged for Solo Voice…. (2000) MGH Records 5000
CD, selections by soprano Henrietta Davis, baritone Robert Sims, bass Alfred Walker, accompanied by piano

Songs by Moses Hogan

First Time Buyer’s Guide to American Negro Spirituals (2006) Primo Collection PRMCD6038
CD, selections by sopranos Ellabelle Davis and Dorothy Maynor, contralto Marian Anderson, tenor Roland Hayes, baritone Jules Bledsoe, bass-baritone Paul Robeson

Songs by R. Nathaniel Dett, Lawrence Brown, Harry T. Burleigh, John C. Payne

Good News (2007) Videmus Records VIS 735
CD, performed by Videmus (soprano Louise Toppin, contralto Ruth Hamilton, baritone Robert Honeysucker)

Songs for Hall Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Hayes, Margaret Bonds

 

Negro Spirituals (1998) EMI 7243 5 72790 2 4
CD, selections by sopranos Martina Arroyo, Kathleen Battle, Barbara Hendricks, mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar, contralto Marian Anderson, variously with chorus, piano

Songs by various composers, including R. Nathaniel Dett, Harry T. Burleigh, William Lawrence, Leonard dePaur, William Dawson, Robert Sadin, Hall Johnson, James Miller, Margaret Bonds, Edward Boatner, Roland Hayes, Howard Johnson, Robert MacGimsey

Negro Spirituals: The Concert Tradition, 1909-1948 (1999) Frémeaux & Associés FA 168
CD, selections by sopranos Ellabelle Davis and Dorothy Maynor, contraltos Marian Anderson and Evelyn Dove, tenors Jules Bledsoe and Roland Hayes, baritone John Payne, and bass-baritone Paul Robeson

Songs by various composers, including Lawrence Brown, Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Hayes, John C. Payne, R. P. Parham, R. Nathaniel Dett

Spirituals in Concert (1991) Deutsche Grammophon 429 790-2
CD, solo and duet selections by sopranos Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman, variously accompanied by orchestra, organ, chorus, flute, harp, piano

Songs by Charles Lloyd, Jr., Don Marsh, Sylvia Olden Lee, Hall Johnson, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Thomas Kerr, Jr., William L. Dawson, Hale Smith, Kurt Kaiser, Margaret Bonds

Steal Away (2014) Yellow Einstein
CD, solo and duet selections by mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges and baritone Will Liverman, variously with piano, flute, viola

Songs by Shawn Okpebholo

 

Watch and Pray: Spirituals and Art Songs by African-American Women Composers (1994) Koch International Classics 3-7247-2H1
CD, selections by mezzo-soprano Pamela Dillard, contralto Ruth Hamilton, baritone Robert Honeysucker, accompanied by piano

Songs by Margaret Bonds, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Price, Julia Perry, Betty Jackson King

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