Steal Away to Jesus.docx - Steal away to Jesus Birth name...

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Steal away to Jesus Birth name Henry Thacker Burleigh Born December 2, 1866 Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S. Died September 12, 1949 (aged 82) New York, New York, U.S. Occupation(s) Singer, composer, arranger December 2, 1866 – September 12, 1949), a baritone, was an African-American classical composer, arranger, and professional singer. He was the first black composer to be instrumental in the characteristically American music and he helped to make black music available to classically trained artists both by introducing them to the music and by arranging the music in a more classical form. Henry Thacker Burleigh was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1866 to Henry Thacker and Elizabeth Burleigh . When Harry was child he would help the family finances by lighting gas street lamps, selling newspapers and working as a printer’s apprentice. Also he was a coachman, and a steward on Lake Erie Steamboats while his father became the first black juror then soon after died an early death and his mother became a teacher for colored schools then became a nurse. After training at the Clark's Business College while he was in high school, as an accountant. The daughter of Henry Thacker Burleigh's employer when she held musicales in her home, and Burleigh served as a doorman when Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño performed there. He studied voice with George F. Brierly, and during and after his high school years became known as one of Erie's most accomplished classical singers. He was employed as a soloist by several Erie churches and the Jewish synagogue and appeared as soloist at many community and civic events. Songs such as "Steal Away to Jesus", "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", "Wade in the Water" and the "Gospel Train" are songs with hidden codes, not only about having faith in God, but containing hidden messages for slaves to run away on their own, or with the Underground Railroad. "Steal Away" was composed by Wallace Willis, Choctaw freedman in the old Indian Territory, sometime before 1862. Slaves developed African American spirituals initially as an expression of Christian faith and belief in the promise of a better life after the brutality of servitude on plantations. Into the nineteenth century, however, some of the spirituals took on another layer of significance as they became a means of communication. Plantation owners were well aware of the Underground Railroad operated by northern abolitionists, southern sympathizers, and former slaves. Laws forbade slaves to learn to read and write, and public meetings were not allowed. Illiterate slaves had little chance to plan any resistance to their dismal conditions.
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