Rhapsody in Black

André J. Thomas can't stop educating the world

André Thomas conducting an orchestra. Courtesy of artist


Rhapsody in Black - André J. Thomas

5:00

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December 01, 2022

Conductor André J. Thomas has spent more than three decades as a director of choral activities and professor of singing. Before he entered academia, Thomas learned about music and how to perform it at his local church. After university, he taught at Florida State University and helped educate choirs in Negro Spiturals worldwide. He refuses to slow down to this day, as he was named an associate artist with the London Symphony Orchestra earlier this year.

Musical selections from André J. Thomas

“Keep Your Lamps!”

Arranged by Thomas, “Keep Your Lamps!” is a traditional gospel blues song also known as "Keep Your Lamp(s) Trimmed and Burning." This arrangement leans heavily on its African roots more than its blues while retaining the standard call-and-response style. This work hints at verses Matthew 25:1-13 and Luke 12:35, which allude to the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

“Here's A Pretty Little Baby”

Considered one of his finer arrangements, “Here’s A Pretty Little Baby” features a synthesizer, string bass, a tenor steel drum, and conga and claves players improvising with the choir. With its energetic and infectious feel, it is a joy to listen to.

“The Kingdom“

Featuring musical elements from Helena Barrington's "Righteousness, Peace and Joy," this song’s lyrics are based on Romans 14:17:

Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, That’s the Kingdom of God.

Don’t you want to be a part of the Kingdom? Come on ev’rybody!

Oh, yes, there’s joy in the Kingdom! Oh, yes, there’s peace in the Kingdom! Oh, yes, there’s love in the Kingdom! Come on ev’rybody!

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. We are part of the earth, And it is part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters, The deer, the horse, the great eagle. These are our brothers.

Oh, all things are connected. Rivers our brothers, Earth our mother. The earth is the Lord’s.

Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. That’s the Kingdom of God!

Credits

Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher