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Harry T. BurleighFrom the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance$
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Jean E. Snyder

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039942

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039942.001.0001

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The Impact of a Life

The Impact of a Life

“I Know the Lord Has Laid His Hands on Me”

Chapter:
(p.343) 18. The Impact of a Life
Source:
Harry T. Burleigh
Author(s):

Jean E. Snyder

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252039942.003.0018

This chapter examines Harry T. Burleigh's legacy in African American music. Burleigh retired in 1946 from his position as baritone soloist at St. George's Protestant Episcopal Church, marking the end of an exceptional public career. He died of cardiac failure on September 12, 1949. All too soon after the influx of laudatory obituaries, the press got wind of the conflict over Burleigh's estate. This chapter first considers the trial involving Burleigh's two wills, both of which were challenged by Louise Alston Burleigh and their son Alston because they suspected his longtime housekeeper, Thelma Hall—a recipient of the second will together with her son James—of exerting undue influence on Burleigh. It also looks at various tributes made in Burleigh's honor, including one from Will Marion Cook, and concludes with an emphasis on the importance of black music to the Harlem Renaissance, Burleigh's mastery in arranging African American spirituals, and the newfound respect for his art songs.

Keywords:   art songs, Harry T. Burleigh, African American music, estate, Louise Alston Burleigh, Thelma Hall, Will Marion Cook, Harlem Renaissance, spirituals, tributes

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