An Evening of Spiritual Arrangements

Andre Thomas / VocalEssence


March 02, 2011
Andre Thomas
Andre Thomas
Courtesy VocalEssence

Back when Dr. Andre Thomas was the only black boy in an all-white Kansas school, he "shrank with embarrassment" when his high school choir sang spirituals. He felt the Amos & Andy -like dialect made fun of black people. But in college, Thomas met a man who changed his mind. His name was Jester Hairston; he was an arranger of spirituals -- and an actor who had actually appeared on Amos and Andy!

Now Andre Thomas is among the world's experts on the history and performance of spirituals. But for all his encyclopedic knowledge, he's a stickler about authenticity, choosing inclusiveness over dogma.