Renowned Vocalist Ysaÿe Barnwell to Visit Grebel

Friday, March 1, 2019

Renowned Vocalist Ysaÿe BarnwellMusic builds community! In an effort to strengthen relationships and connections between individuals and groups in academic and local settings, Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo is privileged to welcome an extraordinary musician as the 2019 Rodney and Lorna Sawatsky Visiting Scholar. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, Ph.D. MSPH is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress, and former member of the African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock®. She is a vocalist with a range of over three octaves and appears on more than twenty-five recordings with Sweet Honey as well as other artists.

For almost thirty years, and on three continents, Barnwell has led the workshop “Building a Vocal Community® - Singing In the African American Tradition,” which utilizes oral tradition, an African world view and African American history, values, cultural and vocal traditions to build communities of song among singers and non-singers alike.

Grebel is pleased to offer two free public events to those who are interested in music, community, and inclusivity. “In her workshop, Barnwell will lead the group in encountering and experiencing the African American cultural and spiritual tradition of coming together in community through song,” described Grebel Dean Troy Osborne. “As we sing, participants will learn the history and context of the music’s formation in spirituals, social struggle, and community life.” Barnwell’s pedagogy is highly respected among musicians, educators, health workers, activists, organizers, and members of the corporate and non-profit sectors.

Music Professor Mark Vuorinen, who is also artistic director of the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Elora Singers, noted, “Dr. Barnwell’s work in building community through song is known around the world.  In her workshops, she teaches groups to sing in harmony without reading music, creating something that really is bigger than the sum of its parts. Her remarkable ability to share her passion for song and for enlivening the voice of a community is a real gift. It’s an honour to have Dr. Barnwell at Grebel as this year’s Sawatsky Visiting Scholar.”

Barnwell’s visit feeds into Grebel’s goal this year to explore themes of diversity and social justice through music. “Making music and using our voices unlocks our senses and our minds. Music can open our eyes and hearts to others,” explained Mary Brubaker-Zehr, Director of Student Services. “We become more vulnerable, more tender, and more receptive when we sing, and thus more open to new ideas, challenge, possibility, and grace.” As Sawatsky Visiting Scholar, Barnwell will also speak at the College’s Community Supper, a faculty forum, and in music classes, and she will work with two of the Music Department’s choirs.

On Friday, March 8, 2019 at 7:30pm, Barnwell will offer the Sawatsky Lecture on “The Power of Music to Create Inclusive Communities” in the Conrad Grebel University College Great Hall. On the following evening, Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 7:00pm, Barnwell will offer her workshop on "Building a Vocal Community®: The Power of Song in Community" at Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo. These are free public events, but registration is required.


Friday, March 8, 2019 at 7:30pm
Public Lecture
The Power of Music to Create Inclusive Communities
Conrad Grebel University College, Great Hall
140 Westmount Rd.  Waterloo, ON

Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 7:00pm
Public Workshop
Building a Vocal Community®: The Power of Song in Community
Knox Waterloo Presbyterian Church
50 Erb St W, Waterloo, ON

For both events, registration is free but required.

Ysaÿe Barnwell visits Grebel

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