Royalties for Spirituals Webinar
A nationwide movement has developed over the past several years to recognize that Negro Spirituals are the creative product of a people whose work was never compensated. The need to rectify this injustice has become apparent. The creators of a genre of American song now recognized as classic were never paid royalties for their work. We have enjoyed spirituals in our hymn books and choir arrangements and have listened to them in concerts for decades without just compensation. The time has come to recognize this injustice and to pay reparations in the form of “royalties.” Though we can no longer compensate the original composers, we can pay back our debt as close the original source as possible.
In February 2022, we held a webinar on the concept of paying royalties for the use of Negro Spirituals. You are welcome to learn more by viewing the recording. You will learn how one church has approached the concept of royalties, what they learned along the way and to whom they pay their royalties. Hopefully you will be inspired to establish your own program of paying back the debt we owe to the enslaved people who gave voice to their anguish, their hopes, their faith.
The resources mentioned here were culled from comments by the webinar panelists and the attendees and are not by any means comprehensive. They will make sense in the context of the webinar.
Here is an article published in October 2022 by the Religious News Service that provides a quick overview of the royalties concept and how it has played out across the country.
Recordings of the Webinar
Susan DeSelms - Panelist
Adam Waite - Panelist
Dr. Emmett G. Price III - Panelist
The plate offering from today's service will go to
Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music and Arts in Roxbury.
We at the United Parish in Brookline
acknowledge the history and significance of the African American Spirituals, traditionally called Negro Spirituals,
sung in today’s worship service.
With great respect and deep gratitude
for the extraordinary musical contributions
made to American music by Black people,
we offer our thanks and praise to God
for the creators of the Negro Spirituals
and their descendants.
We pledge that each time we sing the spiritual songs
of enslaved Black people in our worship together:
We will sing and hear them with holy reverence
and open hearts;
We will honor the unnamed musicians
who created them;
And we will pay royalties to organizations
promoting the advancement of Black artists and musicians in America, starting with Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music and Arts.
We understand that the debt owed
to Black musicians and artists
can never be fully repaid.
Through our prayers, our gifts and our actions,
we will strive to do all that we can
to end systemic racism in America.