Dr. Kehembe V. Eichelberger, Assoc. Prof., Howard University shared a press release with MusicUNTOLD announcing the 25th anniversary of WADE IN THE WATER (26 episode series on NPR honoring the legacy of African American sacred music tradition over a 200 year period).
WASHINGTON – Howard University has made an impact on music with alumni and faculty pouring into the field from many angles. One impactful moment was through the Peabody award-winning, 26-part radio series, “Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions.” For the 25th anniversary, the series is available on NPR One .
“A lesser known fact is that Howard University also loomed large in this groundbreaking, widely distributed and enthusiastically received production,” said Senior Producer Judi Moore Latta and Associate Producer Sonja Williams.
According to the NPR press release, the series is being re-released on NPR One and originally aired in 1994 as a first-time partnership between NPR and the Smithsonian Institution. The Peabody Award-winning series documents the history and impact of Black American music through sacred song, storytelling, and historical analysis. In the first episode, host Bernice Johnson Reagon noted that for African Americans, sacred music and “church was like food, nourishment for the spirit or the soul.” Through archival and live performances recorded just for the series, Wade in the Water preserves the art, wisdom, and faith of a people whose musical traditions, including spirituals, lined hymns, quartets, and gospels.
The series is hosted by Reagon, the conceptual producer, who is a historian, artist, and Howard alumna whom received her Ph.D. in history.
Moore Latta and Williams are professors in Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications. They were joined by Howard University alumni, then student interns, TaJuan Mercer, Michael Johnson and Larry Shields, who played integral roles in the production. Additionally, executive producer and alumna Sandra Rattley along with fellow alumni and production assistants Njemille Jones, Joseph Gill, Dackeyia Simmons Sterling and Beverly Oliver, joined the production.
The musical production included the Howard University Concert Choir and alumnus Richard Smallwood and the Richard Smallwood Singers were featured performers in this multiple award-winning production.