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Lift Every Voice and SwingBlack Musicians and Religious Culture in the Jazz Century$
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Vaughn A. Booker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479892327

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479892327.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

God’s Messenger Boy

God’s Messenger Boy

(p.139) 5 God’s Messenger Boy
Lift Every Voice and Swing

Vaughn A. Booker

NYU Press

This chapter provides an overview of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert tours in the United States and Western Europe to showcase the promise of ecumenical and interracial fellowship. These occasions served to affirm belief in God in the late 1960s, a time when the public questioning of God’s existence animated the anxieties of many white mainline and liberal religious communities. Duke Ellington’s three Sacred Concerts were interfaith projects in which his musical professions of faith lived and came to acquire religious authority due to his prominent celebrity status. His personal religious reflection ultimately resulted in the production of religious music for public consumption. Ellington’s theological explorations marinated in a world saturated with popular religious literature that he studied to compose his Sacred Concerts. Moreover, the presence of Ellington in houses of worship across theological and racial lines also revealed differences in the ways that black and white religious audiences were receptive to his musical work.

Keywords:   Duke Ellington, Sacred Concerts, interfaith, ecumenism, interracial, mainline Protestantism, Billy Strayhorn, sexuality

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