Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Ron Pen
This study focuses on John Wesley Work III’s life and career in response to the scarcity of existing research and publication devoted to him. To expand the scholarship focused on Work and to deepen the history of African American artistry, this dissertation analyzes his additions to concert repertoire through his arrangements of spirituals, investigates his scholarship, and performance— including his activities as Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers — and provides a foundation for further analytical study of African- American sacred music. Methodology utilized in this thesis includes construction of a biographical narrative based on primary sources and analysis of his musical career based on personal writings as well as the musical elements present in his arrangements.
Work’s writings about spirituals demonstrate his awareness of the changing styles in concert-style arrangements as they evolved through diverse performance contexts, but he also believed in maintaining the original source and meaning. Work’s career was dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Black sacred music and folk songs through transcriptions, recordings, and arrangements that adhered to the spirit of oral tradition as possible. John Wesley Work III is a significant figure who told the story of the African-American experience through performing, recording, arranging, and writing about Black music.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Lyman T. Johnson Fellowship, University of Kentucky, 2013-2016
Crawley, Kaylina Madison, "JOHN WESLEY WORK III: ARRANGER, PRESERVER, AND HISTORIAN OF AFRICAN AMERICAN TRADITIONAL MUSIC" (2021). Theses and Dissertations--Music. 179.