Please join Middleton Place Foundation for
Gullah Spirituals: The Sound of Freedom and Protest in the South Carolina Sea Islands
Book Talk and Signing Reception with Author Dr. Eric Crawford
Hear about Dr. Crawford’s groundbreaking research and ongoing preservation efforts of Gullah Geechee spirituals.
Sunday, October 16
The Pavilion at Middleton Place
This event is free and open to the public. Advance reservations are required, and seating is limited.
About the Book
In Gullah Spirituals, musicologist Eric Crawford traces Gullah Geechee songs from their beginnings in West Africa to their height as songs for social change and Black identity in the twentieth-century American South. While much has been done to study, preserve, and interpret Gullah culture in the Lowcountry and sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia, some traditions like the shouting and rowing songs have been all but forgotten. This work, which focuses primarily on South Carolina’s St. Helena Island, illuminates the remarkable history, survival, and influence of spirituals since the earliest recordings in the 1860s. In partnership with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
About the Author
Eric Crawford is Director of the Honors Program at Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from The Catholic University of America. His research focuses on the rich tradition of Gullah music, specifically the retentions and alterations that have occurred since the antebellum period. An outgrowth of this work was the Saint Helena Island Gullah Spirituals Project, which was a collaborative effort among scholars and students to preserve and foster the study of the earliest recorded Negro spirituals. His work on historic Sandy Island led to the 2017 publication At Low Tide: The Voices of Sandy Island. As part of this effort, a Civil Rights Grant from the National Park Service was awarded to Coastal Carolina University to rebuild the island’s historic school and create an interactive cultural center. In 2021, he appeared in Henry Louis Gates’ miniseries “The Black Church” and was a music consultant for the new Amazon miniseries “The Underground Railroad.” In addition, his book Gullah Spirituals: The Sound of Freedom and Protest in the South Carolina Sea Islands was published by the University of South Carolina Press.