March 22, 2021
The history of American music is infused with African influence, and it covers a multitude of genres, styles, artists, and composers… And yet the standard music course at most American colleges and universities rarely, if ever, touches on Black Music.
“I’ve spent my life listening to classic jazz, gospel, spirituals, and oldies, but I didn’t tap into the juggernaut of African-American classical music until I got to PUC,” remembers Christina Allen, 2019 PUC music and visual arts alumna. “When I started looking for recital pieces in my voice lessons, I realized there are so many classically trained African-American composers, lyricists, and artists, and I’d never heard of them.”
Allen has always been a singer; her father, also a singer as well as a trombonist, began teaching her jazz harmonies when she was five years old. She was handed a mic and soloed with her church choir as a young child, too.
“When I got to PUC, though I was focused on film and television, I couldn’t help but find my way over to the music department,” she says with a grin.
Allen found her way to a practice room and began singing. She was overheard by a professor, who encouraged her to try out for choir, which she did. At first it was just something she was adding to her course lineup for fun, but she quickly realized it was more than that to her.
“I loved it,” Allen admits. “I knew I had to get a degree in music because I just love it, it’s part of who I am, and I wanted to study it properly.”