Centenary presents recital of spirituals to open Black History Month

SHREVEPORT, LA —  Centenary College’s Hurley School of Music is proud to welcome African American educator and tenor, Jonathan Walker-VanKuren, to campus to present his acclaimed solo voice recital, “Songs my mother taught me…,” on Wednesday, February 1, at 4:00 p.m. in Anderson Auditorium. The all-spiritual recital kicks off Centenary’s Black History Month celebration for 2023 and is free and open to the public.

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Jonathan Walker-VanKuren as our Convocation guest to kick off our Black History Month celebrations,” said Dr. Janani Sridhar, assistant professor of music at the Hurley School. “Jonathan has presented his all-spiritual recital across the US, and we are excited to have him on campus for this event. During his time here, Jonathan will also be working with our singers and instrumentalists on music by Black composers. It is rare that an entire recital is dedicated to the canon of spirituals, and I think that it will be real treat and a wonderful educational experience for those who plan to attend.”

Hurley students, coached by Walker-VanKuren, will present two concerts celebrating Black History Month on Sunday, February 5, at 3:00 p.m. at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, and Monday, February 6, at 12:00 p.m. at Centenary’s Anderson Auditorium. These concerts are presented in conjunction with Shreveport’s Carrefour Collaborative Music Project.

Walker-VanKuren is assistant professor of voice at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania and maintains an active performing and teaching schedule around the United States. He is a versatile performer whose repertoire includes jazz, musical theatre, art song, and opera. Most recently, he has performed as Thamar in Opera Southwest’s revival production of Ali Baba as well as the Witch (Hansel and Gretel), Don Jose (La tragédie de Carmen), Fenton (Falstaff), Nelson (Porgy and Bess), and Beppe (Il Pagliacci). Walker-VanKuren’s students have completed graduate study at institutions such as Texas A&M, Michigan State University, and Belmont University before pursuing careers in musical theatre, opera, and popular music in the recording industry.

During the 2019-2020 season, Walker-VanKuren premiered “Songs my mother taught me…,” a celebration of African American History through spirituals sponsored by Fort Worth Opera. As a recitalist, he prides himself on his interpretation of art songs and the stories they portray. Additionally, Walker-VanKuren loves African American Spirituals and is a strong proponent of their inclusion in classical recitals.

Learn more about Walker-VanKuren at jonathanwvankuren.com.

“Songs my mother taught me…” and Walker-VanKuren’s visit are generously underwritten by the Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture Program at Centenary College.


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