The U.S. Slave Song Project’ returns to the Island next week

Jim Thomas and the Spirituals Choir at a past performance at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs.– File photo by Adrianne Ryan

The Jim Thomas Spirituals Choir presents the “U.S. Slave Song Project” on Wednesday, June 24, at 5 pm at the Chilmark public library. This will be the choir’s 10th season performing on the Vineyard.

The U.S. Slave Song Project is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to researching, performing, and educating the public about authentic U.S. slave songs. U.S. slave songs, circa 1619-1865, also known as Negro spirituals, are a unique body of work and type of performance.

Spirituals are genuine American folk music, and performed in tandem with narrative presentation, serve to open up discussion and give a greater historical understanding to this point in American history.

James (Jim) E. Thomas is the founder and president of USSSP, director of the Spirituals Choir, and serves as principal narrator for events. He has given presentations on spirituals in Germany, Brazil, Austria, Sweden, Africa, and across the United States. Since 1976, he has been the founding director of the American Red Cross Chorus at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. There will be both an informative presentation and a musical performance.

Admission is free. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Chilmark Public Library. For more information, please call 508-645-3360.