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Amazing Grace: The American Spiritual
Wednesday, January 18
Wednesday, January 18, 2023 - Tuesday, January 31, 2023
This is an online event at Online - Amazing Grace: The American Spiritual Go to event website
Online Showcase
Artist / Group Name
Emily Isaacson & Co.
Expo Hall Space #
Special Instructions


Amazing Grace: The American Spiritual traces the history of Black spirituals from Pre-Emancipation folk singing to the Black Lives Matter movement using visual art, music, prose, and poetry. Part multimedia concert, part community event, Amazing Grace is a customized artistic experience rooted in your local community and brought to life by our artistic team.

Visit for more information.

WHAT: A multimedia performance (70 min, no intermission; original version garnered 6,100+ views); Supporting educational and community engagement events; Companion webpage of anti-racism learning opportunities including recommended reading, podcast, music, movie, and documentary lists and ways to connect to advocacy organizations.


WHY: Artist Statement from Music Director Dr. Emily Isaacson

“As a Jewish woman whose grandmother survived the Holocaust, I am endlessly curious about how beauty is born from struggle and the parallels between the Jewish and African-American experiences of servitude, discrimination, and resilience. Black spirituals are central to the matrix of American music but are often treated as singular songs taken out of context. Working with historians, activists, educators, and artists, we built Amazing Grace, a multimedia, multi-platform experience that uses historical writings, theatrical staging, and community events to share the stories behind the music. Living in Maine, the whitest state in the union, my intention is not to replace black choirs but to create a shared experience for black and non-black community members in a manner that is educational, celebratory, inclusive, and has a track record of success. My hope is that by bringing together people of different backgrounds, and sharing our stories, we can create a more equitable and inclusive community.” - Dr. Emily Isaacson


WHO: Your community choir + your local civic leaders + our pianist, soloist(s), and music director

  • Community choir – Mid-level amateur choir of 16-40 singers from university, church, or arts nonprofit; choir is prepped by local conductor

  • Civic Leaders – 1-5 leaders from your community read poetry, prose, and historical documents in the performance; readers are coached via Zoom by music director

  • Music Director and Conductor – Dr. Emily Isaacson - conductor, artistic director; 2018 Maine Artist of the Year; 2018 50 Mainers Leading the State; faculty at Bowdoin College

  • Collaborative Pianist – Scott Wheatley - collaborative pianist; Artist Faculty in Voice at the University of Southern Maine

  • Soloists and other artists may include:

    • Daniel Minter – American painter and sculptor; work deals with themes of displacement and diaspora, ordinary/extraordinary blackness and spirituality in the Afro-Atlantic world

    • Dr. Judith Casselberry – programming consultant; Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Bowdoin College

    • Reginald Mobley – countertenor; programming consultant; GRAMMY-nominated singer; director of Every Voice and programming consultant for the Handel & Haydn Society; Visiting Artist for Diversity Outreach with Apollo’s Fire

    • JanaeSound – mezzo; touring rock and spirituals singer

    • Jonathan Woody – bass-baritone; composer; praised as “charismatic” and “riveting” (New York Times)

    • Shawn Taylor – baritone; composer, pianist, educator, author, and arts equity advocate.

    • Nathaniel Menifield – baritone; Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at Maine Department of Education; MA in Policy, Organization and Leadership from Stanford University