hall johnson sq jpg 3

NATS Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition

NATS Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition

click here to learn more about it

Held every two years as part of the NATS National Conference

From the sponsor: The purpose of this competition is to restore authenticity to the performance of the classically-arranged Spiritual, one of America’s unique contributions to world culture. Characteristics of Gospel and Jazz, styles that developed later but are far more popular and ubiquitous, have so corrupted Spiritual performance that authentic practice is in danger of being lost. The competition seeks further to promote the truth that Spirituals, like Art Songs, can be successfully performed by all people, not only by the African Americans who created them, and require only the same study that one devotes to any art song or aria. The competition wishes to encourage high excellence in the performance of this genre, and to this end, the Hall Johnson Collection at Rowan University will provide a cash award of $2000 for the best performance of a Hall Johnson Spiritual at the biennial national convention from 2016–2036.

Winners of this category will proceed to a YouTube semi-final round with a chance of proceeding to the finals at the national conference.

In keeping with the spirit of this award, and the importance of the repertoire, the Texoma Board of Control has decided to make this an annual audition category, with the winners advancing to the national finals every other year.

Click here to register.

Audition Procedures

  • Singers will bring three printed audition/repertoire forms. These will be printed from Auditionware in advance of the auditions.
  • Singers select their first piece to perform. 
  • The adjudication panel selects subsequent pieces.
  • Time begins when the singer announces their first piece.
  • Time continues to run between selections. 
    • Therefore, in preliminary and semi-final rounds, each adjudication panel chair should expedite a rotation cycle among the panel members for subsequent repertoire selections.
      • Repertoire selections should be made immediately because time continues to run between selections.
    • During the audition, selections are to be sung in their entirety as prepared by the student, WITHOUT suggested edits from adjudicators.  For example: 
      • requesting a singer start at the B section
      • suggesting a student skip a prepared recitative and start with the aria
      • stopping a student in the middle of a piece to move on to the next piece 
    • Repertoire is heard as the time allotment allows. 
      • It is possible that not all repertoire will be heard, and/or that the time allotment will end in the middle of a selection.  Singers should be made aware of this possibility by their teachers.
    • The audition is completed when the adjudication panel or the timer calls/signals “stop”.
    • Students will be ranked, not scored for this round, assigning the number 1 for the first place student, 2 for the second, etc.
    • Judges will not confer during the auditions.
    • Judges are not to reveal student rankings. Winner announcements will be made during the final concert on Saturday November 11.

Official Repertoire

Each student must prepare three contrasting selections from Hall Johnson spiritual repertoire. Student repertoire has been reviewed and approved by the audition coordinator. The official selections for this competition are listed below and are available in these sources:

  1. Carl Fischer Hall Johnson Collection
    (Note that additional selections are included in this collection that are not eligible for this competition)
  2. Hal Leonard Digital Series – Hall Johnson Concert Spirituals
    (Note that each selection is available in two keys) NATS and the Hall Johnson Estate are grateful for the assistance of Richard Walters and Hal Leonard Corp. for making available these previously inaccessible works.)

Repertoire List

All music is available in the Carl Fischer “Hall Johnson Collection”(CF) or the Hal Leonard Digital Series, “Hall Johnson Concert Spirituals” (HL)

Ain’t Got Time to Die - HL

City Called Heaven - HL

Crucifixion - CF

Ev’ry Time I Feel de Spirit - HL

Fix Me, Jesus - HL

Give Me Jesus - CF

His Name So Sweet - CF

Honor! Honor! - CF

I Been in de Storm So Long - HL

I Got To Lie Down - CF

I’m Gon’ter Tell God All o’ my Troubles - CF

Le’s Have a Union - HL

My God is So High - HL

My Good Lord Done Been Here - CF

Oh, Glory! - CF

Po’ Mo’ner Got a Home at Las’ - HL

Ride On, King Jesus!- CF

Roll Jerd’n, Roll - HL

Take My Mother Home - CF

Wade in de Water - HL

Witness - CF

*All works are annotated and analyzed in “The Concert Spirituals of Hall Johnson: An Annotated Guide to Interpretation and Performance,” by Eugene Thamon Simpson, available September 2015.