9th Annual Symposium to Highlight Doris Akers, Lucie Campbell, Fanny Crosby Among Other Female Contributors to Black Gospel Music

February 4, 2021
2021 Pruit

Baylor University presents the 2021 Pruit Memorial Symposium, "Lord, Don't Move the Mountain: Women's Voices in Gospel Songs and Hymns—Doris Akers, Lucie Campbell, and Fanny Crosby" on Feb. 25, Mar. 2, and Mar. 9 at 3:30 p.m. CST via Zoom.

On Feb. 25 at 3:30 p.m. CST, Dr. Horace Maxile, associate professor of Music Theory at Baylor, will open the 2021 Pruit Symposium with a panel, “On Themes of Influence, Innovation, and Invocation,” which features Dr. Fredara Hadley of The Julliard School, Dr. Cory Hunter from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and the Rev. Dr. Braxton Shelley at Harvard University.

The symposium will continue with a keynote address by Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, assistant professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University-Bloomington at 3:30 p.m. CST on March 2, "Tracing a Womanist Legacy of Self-Possession and Musical Sisterhood in the Life of Gospel Foremother Lucie E. Campbell."

The symposium will conclude with an address by Dr. Mellonee Burnim, "The Song-Sermon as Signature Shirley Caesar," on March 9 at 3:30 p.m. CST. Burnim, professor emerita at Indiana University-Bloomington, currently serves as visiting professor of ethnomusicology at Yale University.

“Women’s voices have long been prominent in the composition and performance of gospel songs and hymns,” explains Pruit Symposium co-chair Kathy Hillman, assistant professor and director of Baptist Collections. “This year seemed an appropriate historical moment to recognize and celebrate the influence, contributions, and rich legacy of Doris Akers, Lucie Campbell, Fanny Crosby and so many other women like them, including Mahalia Jackson who co-wrote ‘Lord, Don’t Move the Mountain’ with Akers.”

The Pruit Memorial Symposium brings the perspective of the Christian intellectual tradition to bear on contemporary issues of common concern. Since 2013, the symposium has been dedicated to exploring the black gospel music tradition in conjunction with the Baylor Libraries' Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.

Pruit co-chair Robert Darden, professor and master teacher of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, also founded the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP) at Baylor — the world's largest initiative to digitize, scan, and catalog the fast-vanishing legacy of vinyl from gospel music's golden age. "The BGMRP is forever linked with the Pruit Memorial Symposium," Darden said. "We share the same goal of exploring and celebrating one of America's oldest and most influential music genres."

"The BGMRP, which provides the gospel music and sermons for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, has become a destination for scholars and music lovers alike and the scholarship generated here—and often shared at Pruit—continues to drive this unique and expanding collection."

Zoom credentials will be posted on the Pruit Symposium website (baylor.edu/pruit) one day before each scheduled event. Participants may request a reminder email on the website that will be distributed one day before each event and contain the Zoom credentials. The keynote addresses and panel discussions are planned for an hour and there will be time for moderated questions from the online audience.

The Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment Fund was established in 1996 by Ella Wall Prichard and the late Lev H. Prichard III of Corpus Christi in memory of Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit.