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SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - McHenry Boatwright

That’s the glorious bass-baritone voice of McHenry Boatwright singing and playing piano on the old spiritual, “Let Us Break Bread Together.”

Born in tiny Tenille, Georgia in 1928, McHenry Boatwright was another one of those child prodigies, playing piano and singing from a very early age. In 1940, to escape Jim Crow laws, he joined an older sister in Boston. Despite being essentially self-taught, he was admitted to the New England Conservatory and graduated with degrees in piano in 1950 and voice in 1954.

From there, Boatwright’s career took off – everybody wanted to hear his glorious bass-baritone voice and sensitive piano playing. He quickly became the go-to bass-baritone in dozens of major operas, he appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and even sang for several U.S. presidents. When he died in 1994, he was Emeritus Professor of Voice at Ohio State University. Boatwright recorded numerous spirituals in his career, including this lovely version of “Let Us Break Bread Together” from the early 1970s.

2343 McHenry Boatwright - Let Us Break Bread Together.mp3

MUSIC: (2343) McHenry Boatwright, The Art of McHenry Boatwright: Spirituals LP, “Let Us Break Bread Together,” Side 2, Track 1 (October 22, 2023)

I’m Robert Darden … “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” is produced by KWBU, the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program at Baylor University Libraries and is funded by generous support from the Prichard Foundation.

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Robert F. Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement(Penn State University Press, 2014); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor(Abingdon Press, 2008), Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories(Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music(Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).