Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Angelique Clay-Everett


African Romances, Op. 17, composed in 1897 by African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), is a collection of seven songs for high voice that is uniquely both African and American. The lyrics of this song cycle were first published in the book Majors and Minors, a collection of poems published in 1895 by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).

An analysis of resources supports that academic discourse in Black vocal music has been underrepresented due to the absence of centralized information, such as published scores, recorded materials, catalogs, and guides for study and performance. While in depth research focusing on the art song repertoire of Black composers has increased over the last 35 years, the narrative of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor as an art song composer still remains in obscurity. Coleridge-Taylor’s vocal canon is relatively unknown compared to his famous instrumental works and the art songs of other composers of the late-Romantic period.

Despite several compositions appearing in anthologies by Black song composers, the vocal works of Coleridge-Taylor are not widely recorded or performed, thus resulting in an absence of critical performance study. Specifically, the seven songs of African Romances – “An African Love Song,” “A Prayer,” “A Starry Night,” “Dawn,” “Ballad,” “Over the Hills,” and “How Shall I Woo Thee?” – have not been the subject of prior significant analysis. African Romances represents the earliest known song cycle by a Black composer and Black poet.

This treatise addresses the under-served Black Art Song from a historical point of view, examines the musical and poetic narratives and aesthetics of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and provides a guide to African Romances, Op. 17 for performers, teachers and scholars of classical vocal repertoire.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)