A Juneteenth Celebration
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A Juneteenth Celebration

Happy Juneteenth from Castle of our Skins! This year we're proud to present a video with a performance of Ahmed Alabaca's arrangement of "Young, Gifted, and Black" and a transcription of "Lift Every Voice and Sing", the Black National Anthem. WHAT IS JUNETEENTH? "Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil war was over and the enslaved in Texas were legally free. The news arrived two and a half years late! President Lincoln actually signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. However, the freedom that historic document promised only applied to Confederate states that had seceded from the United States, and depended on the Confederacy's military defeat. Every Juneteenth, we also must remember the distinguished black troops, such as the 54th Massachusetts 'Glory' Regiment, who fought to end slavery and helped ensure the Union's victory on April 9, 1865. Slavery was not abolished for all in the United States, however, until the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865." (Sources: National Archive - https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured-documents/emancipation-proclamation; and Juneteenth.com - https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm) ABOUT THE MUSIC "Young, Gifted, and Black" was composed and released as a single in 1969 by Nina Simone. (Fun fact: the name "Castle of our Skins" is derived from "poem: for Nina" by Nikki Giovanni. The "Nina" in the title is "Nina Simone"!) For the text, Simone worked naturally with the poet Weldon Irvine. 4 years prior, a collection of the playwright Lorraine Hansberry's works were published with the title "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black." Simone was inspired by Hansberry when creating this iconic anthem, which she composed to "make black children all over the world feel good about themselves forever." The arranger of this viola-piano duo version, Ahmed Alabaca (https://ahmedalabaca.wixsite.com/ahmed/bio) is a composer, pianist, and composer, current based in Los Angeles. Among his repertoire include scores for indie films, as well as original works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestral works. To contribute to Alabaca's success, send him a donation from the heart using Venmo (@ahmed-alabaca), CashApp ($AhmedAlabaca), or PayPal (paypal.me/ahmedalabaca)! "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was completed in 1905 as a song with music composed by John Rosamond Johnson, using a text written 5 years prior in 1900 by his brother, James Weldon Johnson. In 1919, the NAACP officially dubbed it as the Black National Anthem. This powerful, expressive song has routes in Boston, as the composer was partly trained at New England Conservatory, where the co-founders of Castle of our Skins first met! ABOUT CASTLE OF OUR SKINS Born out of the desire to foster cultural curiosity, Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins invites exploration into ​Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated ​figures of past and present. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit: http://www.castleskins.org/donate1.html THANK YOU! http://www.castleskins.org