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*Henrietta Crawley Myers was born on this date in 1878. She was a Black singer (contralto) and choral director.
Henrietta Crawley was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the oldest of 10 children born to Thomas Edward and Mary Jane Crawley. She was educated in the public schools of Nashville and later at Fisk University. She began her career as a Fisk Jubilee Singer under the direction of John W. Work II.
Married to The Reverend James A. Myers in 1906, she assisted her husband. He was then director of the Jubilee Singers when they toured Europe nearly forty years after the original Singers had captivated international audiences. After his death in 1928, Mrs. Myers “…dedicated her life to continuing the work of showing the world the glorious music that is uniquely American.” She insisted upon using her married name, Mrs. James A. Myers, in all press and programs for the Jubilee Singers because she did not want white people to be able to show disrespect by calling her by her first name. Few knew her given name at all, except for close friends and family.
Maurice Ravel, the French composer, was so deeply enamored of the superb musicianship of the “Myers-directed” Singers that he presented them with a photograph signed “Homage to Perfection.” Through the U.S. State Department sponsorship, Mrs. Myers and the Jubilee Singers toured widely throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. Mrs. Myers retired from Fisk University in 1947, but she directed her quartet, sextet, and an octet of singers worldwide for twelve more years. In 1963, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, under the direction of Matthew Kennedy, dedicated their annual Festival concert to Mrs. Myers. This was her last public appearance in the Fisk Memorial Chapel. Henrietta Myers died on March 25, 1968.
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