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July 30, 2003

American Folklife Center Presents Gospel Concert

Musicians from the State of Indiana Are Featured

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress presents Robert Turner and the Silver Heart Gospel Singers at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 20, on Neptune Plaza in front of the Thomas Jefferson Building, First Street and Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C.

The concert will feature the nine-member ensemble from Indianapolis performing both original pieces and gospel standards. Indiana state folklorist Erin Roth, from Traditional Arts Indiana, will introduce the concert and provide background on the group. The concert, which is co-sponsored by the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, is free of charge and open to the public.

This outdoor concert is the fifth in this year’s American Folklife Center series "Homegrown 2003: The Music of America," monthly presentations of traditional music and dance, which are offered at the Library of Congress from April to November. The musicians are drawn from communities across the United States and chosen with the help of state folklorists. The "Homegrown" series is the grassroots component of "I Hear America Singing," a Library of Congress project celebrating America’s music.

Robert Turner and the Silver Heart Gospel Singers perform some of Indiana’s finest traditional gospel music. Formed in 1960 by Robert Turner, then 15 years old, the Silver Hearts have grown into an Indianapolis institution, singing at churches, church reunions and community gatherings and organizing an annual, citywide Gospel Extravaganza for the past 40 years.

Robert Turner sang his first solo, "Let God Abide," when he was 4, standing on a chair before the congregation of the Metropolitan Baptist Church. He joined the church’s traveling choir at age 10, and in 1958 he heard the Clara Ward Singers at the Bible Way Baptist Church, just around the corner from his home. Inspiration for the Silver Hearts was born on that night.

Turner recalls his reaction to the Clara Ward Singers: "Five ladies, fabulous gowns, the music was piano and organ instead of the quartet/guitar sound I’d been raised on, and it was like ... wow!"

African American gospel has grown in popularity since its beginnings in the 1920s and has changed over the years, incorporating elements of be-bop, rhythm and blues, and pop music. But the Silver Hearts have stuck to the basics, doing traditional gospel, 1960s style, accompanied by keyboard, as Robert Turner says, "music your mother or grandmother could relate to."

Not affiliated with any one church, the members of the Silver Hearts each have a home church to which they contribute musically. The group’s keyboard player, Tony Carpenter, and Linda Bush, one of the singers, serve as ministers of music for their churches; and Carmella Hardy, another Silver Heart singer, is a soloist with her own published recordings. The Silver Hearts perform on weekends and tour at least twice a year, but the members return to their regular jobs on Monday morning.

Members of the Silver Hearts are: Tony Carpenter (on keyboard), Robert Turner (vocals, composer and arranger), Deborah Barnett, Diana Brodley, Linda Bush, and Carmella Hardy (all on vocals).

The inclement weather location for the concert is Coolidge Auditorium, on the ground floor of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The closest Metro stops are at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line).

Upcoming concerts in the Homegrown 2003 series are:

Sept. 18
Roberto and Lorenzo Martinez: 2003 NEA National Heritage Fellows from New Mexico

Oct. 8
Wylie and the Wild West: Cowboy and country music from Washington state

Nov. 12
Chuna McIntyre and the Nunumpta Yup’ik Dancers: music and dance from Alaska

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established

in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

Traditional Arts Indiana, a partnership of the Indiana Arts Commission and Indiana University, is dedicated to promoting traditional artists and arts in Indiana and broadening public awareness and appreciation for the traditional arts.

Part of the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center's mission to make performing arts widely accessible. The Millennium Stage introduces the performing arts to the local community and to millions of people who visit the center each year. These free, 6 p.m. performances are offered 365 days a year. Tickets are never required. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available at http://kennedy-center.org.

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington (FSGW) was founded in 1964 to further the understanding, investigation, appreciation and performance of the traditional folk music and folklore of the American people. The FSGW presents more than 200 folk events in the Washington, D.C., area each year. Learn more about the society at www.fsgw.org.

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PR 03-132
07/30/03
ISSN 0731-3527

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