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Musician Ysaÿe Barnwell to visit ASU School of Music for weeklong residency

A longtime member of African-American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, Barnwell will present public sing sessions and lectures on her research


Ysaÿe M. Barnwell

August 28, 2017

Arizona State University’s School of Music welcomes musician, composer, singer, choral clinician, educator and author Ysaÿe M. Barnwell for a weeklong residency Sept. 5–8.

During her time on campus, Barnwell will present public sing sessions and lectures on her research and creative work and community building through music, as well as engage in conversations with students in ASU courses. 

“We are delighted to welcome an artist of Dr. Barnwell’s caliber for a residency in the ASU School of Music, as our students explore the multiple avenues through which they can engage with the community,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “Dr. Barnwell’s visit highlights the ways in which they can utilize their own creative capacities to benefit society.”

Barnwell will present three Community Sing Sessions titled “Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition” (no singing experience necessary):

• 8:30–10:30 a.m. Sept. 5, ASU Gammage, room 311

• 4:30–6:15 p.m. Sept. 6, ASU Gammage, room 301

• 7 p.m. Sept. 8, Desert Foothills United Methodist Church, 2156 East Liberty Lane, Phoenix 85048

Additionally, Barnwell will present three public lectures:

• An African World View of Music: 11:50 a.m.–12:40 p.m. Sept. 6, Katzin Concert Hall

• Fortune’s Bones: A discussion with ASU Institute Professor Daniel Bernard Roumain: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7, Katzin Concert Hall

• Music in the Community, 9:40 to 10:30 a.m. Sept. 8, Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

All events are free and open to the public.

Barnwell is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress and former member of the internationally acclaimed African-American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. Trained as a violinist for 15 years beginning at the age of two and a half, she holds degrees in speech pathology (BS, MSEd), cranio-facial studies (PhD) and public health (MSPH).

For almost 30 years and on three continents, Barnwell has led the workshop "Building a Vocal Community – Singing in the African American Tradition," which utilizes oral tradition, an African world view, and African American history, values, cultural and vocal traditions to build communities of song among singers and non-singers alike. Her pedagogy is highly respected among musicians, educators, health workers, activists, organizers and members of the corporate and non-profit sectors.

This residency is made possible in part by a Mellon Foundation grant and matching funds from the School of Music. Barnwell’s residency supports the Herberger Institute Initiative “Projecting All Voices,” which recognizes that every person, regardless of social background, deserves an equal chance to help tell our nation’s and our world’s stories. Our creative expression defines who we are, what we aspire to and how we hope to live together.

For more information about Barnwell’s residency and how you can be involved, contact Deanna Swoboda at Arizona State University at  

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