YELLOW SPRINGS — Yellow Springs Friends Meeting (Quaker) will present Cathy Roma giving a lecture recital, “Hope for You: New Spirituals Emerging from Modern Mass Incarceration,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at the Yellow Springs Senior Center, 227 Xenia Ave.
In her presentation, Roma will bring together an analysis of song lyrics and an investigation of musical forms and genres of compositions by men in prison. These songs descend directly from the tradition of slave songs and spirituals.
“I will make the case that these ‘new spirituals’ arise out of the lived experience of incarcerated African American men today,” she said.
Michelle Alexander in her highly acclaimed book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, describes mass incarceration of African American men as the “main racialized system of control” in America today and considers it the continuation of its historical precursors: slavery and Jim Crow.
Roma, as director of two prison choirs in Ohio, offers recordings, video footage, and transcribed musical scores of original songs written and performed behind prison walls. The compositions and performances present a vivid example of art as refuge and strength in a contemporary struggle for freedom.
Roma is currently Professor of Music at Wilmington College in Wilmington. Through her association at Wilmington, she founded and directs UMOJA Men’s Chorus at the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon. She is Minister of Music at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church in Cincinnati, and was co‐founder and co‐director of the Martin Luther King Chorale. Recently Roma started the UBUNTU Men’s Chorus at Madison Correctional Institution. Roma retired as founder and artistic director of MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir this past spring after 30 years. She directs the World House Choir in Yellow Springs.