American Negro Spirituals

American Negro Spirituals (Fall, even years)

The American Negro Spiritual Categories alternate with the Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition; the top five regional winners advance to the National Student Audition (NSA) rounds, as with all other NSA-eligible categories. Additional information about the history of these categories and the national levels of the competition can be found on the NATS American Negro Spiritual Categories website.

Although most of the composers of the spirituals we now sing are unknown, the melodies and lyrics have been arranged by hundreds of arrangers in many different styles. The spirituals approved for performance in NATS auditions are the classical arrangements of the North American Negro Spirituals and arranged by classical North American composers. The terminology for singing in the American Negro Spirituals category is outlined and defined in the classical Audition Terminology. While the American Negro Spirituals’ geneses are of and by African Americans, they tell the stories in music of the history of our country. NATS encourages all singers to explore, study, and perform these beautiful songs.

Official Repertoire Requirements: Arrangements in classical style of the North American Negro Spirituals, by composers similar to the style of H.T. Burleigh, R. Nathaniel Dett, Florence Price, Moses Hogan, Edward Boatner, Undine Smith Moore, James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson, Margaret Bonds, Hall Johnson and others. The classical style excludes Gospel, Blues, and Jazz music. See the NATS website for the Official Repertoire – Approved Arrangements and Collections.