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The University of Illinois Black Chorus
Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, conductor
The Black Chorus at the University of Illinois was founded in 1968. Organized by four students, and later under the direction of School of Music faculty with student officers, the Black Chorus has sustained a high level of excellence in performance, collaborating with writers, jazz and gospel musicians, chamber orchestra, and dancers.
A large mixed-voice choral ensemble, the Black Chorus performs the music of Black Americans. With repertoire ranging from African chant, field hollers, Negro spirituals, anthems, Traditional and Contemporary gospel to jazz, soul, blues, and rhythm and blues, the Black Chorus is highly sought after. Often serving as “student ambassadors” of the university through performances at high-profile events both on and off campus, the Black Chorus has performed for Commencement, President’s Awards Day, UI Foundation events, UI Advancement events, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access events, the UI Presidential Inauguration, the campus Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation celebration events, and events commemorating the tragedy of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The Black Chorus performed the world premiere of “Refuge”, a cantata, commissioned for the 10th Anniversary 9/11 Memorial Concert at the University of Illinois; and “I Hear Freedom,” a choral anthem commission for the Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation capstone event. Most recently, the Black Chorus performed for the campus memorial honoring Sgt. Shawna Morrison, for the re-dedication of Lincoln Hall, and for the dedication of Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield Residence Hall.