During the Harlem Renaissance, music, religion, and spirituality were connected—not only in the church, but also in the jazz club. The public radio special “The Harlem Renaissance: Music, Religion, and the Politics of Race” combines music, archival audio, and guest commentary to explore this fascinating period in African-American history.
The program will air on WNYC on Tuesday, February 14, 8pm, and on other public radio stations nationwide. The two-hour special is part of IRCPL’s radio series, Rethinking Religion, produced in connection with the Luce Group.
Hosted by Norris J. Chumley (Emmy Award winner, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer), the first hour explores the influence of the Great Migration on Harlem, what it meant to be a “New Negro” in the 1920s, the emergence of new artistic and religious forms in Harlem, and the spiritual connections between the blues and gospel music. In hour two, guests discuss the emergence of the storefront church, the Harlem rent party, musicians’ roots in the church, and improvisation in music and the church service.
Guests include scholars Josef Sorett, Farah Griffin, Obery M. Hendricks Jr; Reverend Calvin O. Butts III of Abyssinian Baptist Church; writer Carl Hancock Rux; pianist and composer Courtney Bryan; and others. The episodes feature the voices of Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, plus music by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, and Mahalia Jackson, and more.
This radio special was developed in connection with IRCPL’s media project Religions of Harlem, organized by Josef Sorett and Obery M. Hendricks Jr.
Executive producer and host is Norris J. Chumley; producer is Jim Luce; writer is Sally Placksin (American Women in Jazz, What’s the Word?); consulting editor is Josef Sorett; technical director is Duke Markos (JazzSet with DeeDee Bridgewater, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz); associate producer is Genevieve Luce; and managing editor is Emily Brennan.
“The Harlem Renaissance: Music, Religion, and the Politics of Race” will air on select public radio stations the following dates:
- Tuesday, February 14, 8pm*: WNYC 93.9FM and AM820 (New York City); WNJT 88.1 (Trenton); WNJP 88.5 (Sussex); WNJY 89.3 (Netcong); WNJO 90.3 (Toms River/Seaside Park). *Airing only first hour.
- Sunday, February 19, 9pm*: WNYC 93.9FM and AM820 (New York City). *Airing only first hour.
- Throughout February*: WPFW (Washington, DC); KCSM (San Francisco); KCEP (Las Vegas); WDUQ (Duquesne University, Pittsburg); WFSK (Fisk University, Nashville); WJAB (Huntsville, AL); WCSU (Wilberforce OH); KSUN (Parachute, CO); KGRM (Grambling, LA); KSTK (Wrangell, AK); KCSM (San Mateo, CA). *Check local listings for air times.