Campus News

‘A Night at the Morton’ to celebrate African-American music in Athens

Morton Theatre-h.
Morton Theatre

The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, the Institute for African American Studies and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music will present “A Night at the Morton: Celebrating Black ­Traditions in Athens Musical Culture” on March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Morton Theatre, 195 W. Washington St.

The event is a program of the Athens Music Project, a Willson Center Faculty Research Cluster co-directed by Jean Ngoya Kidula, an associate professor of music and African studies, and Susan Thomas, an associate professor of music and women’s studies.

Performers and presenters include the Athens Voices of Truth community choir, directed by James R. Smith; the UGA African American Choral Ensemble, directed by Gregory Broughton, associate professor of music; Valerie Babb, professor of English and director of the UGA Institute for African American Studies; Barbara McCaskill, associate professor of English and co-director of the Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative; Ed Pavlic, poet and professor of English; UGA theatre students under the direction of Freda Scott Giles, associate professor of theatre and film studies; and Athens community music icon Walter Allen.

“Athens is internationally known as an epicenter for rock and alternative music,” said Babb, who will serve as master of ceremonies. “This event will show it is also home to a vibrant tradition of black music having its roots in vaudeville performance and the civil rights movement, and still influencing performers today. Designed for music lovers of all ages and backgrounds, ‘A Night at the Morton’ will highlight the diverse African-American soundscape in Athens.”

Along with readings and interviews of key personalities, the evening will feature both sacred and secular music. The program will follow Athens’ black musical history from its roots in spirituals and vaudeville performance, to its role in the civil rights movement, to its contemporary creative production.

Tickets to the event are free, but limited. They may be picked up at the Morton Theatre box office between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. or 3-6 p.m. weekdays or reserved by phone at 706-613-3771.

The Athens Music Project provides a platform for research, creative development and shared expertise in, about and for Athens’ diverse musical communities. Learn more at