DU Special Collections

Oral history interview with Bennie Williams

Oral history interview with Bennie Williams
Williams, Bennie, 1932-
Sound Recording, Sound Recording
electronic, digitized other analog
williams, bennie, 1932-
Bennie Williams recounts her early experiences of growing up, and attending grade school, high school and college in Marshall, Tex. She discusses how spirituals were an integral part of the church she attended, but that it was not until she was in college that she considered the differences between hymns, spirituals and gospel. She relates her experiences in teaching spirituals, from directing high school choirs performing at the Black Teachers Association meetings in Tex., to teaching in Denver, Colo. public schools including George Washington High School and Hamilton Middle School. She discusses the issue of whether or not students can appreciate a spiritual without knowing its historical content, and believes that her students could relate to spirituals in terms of their own personal experiences and the hope that spirituals embody., Bennie Williams was born and educated in Marshall, Tex. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in piano from Bishop College in Marshall, and a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting and Piano from Indiana University at Bloomington, Ill. She began her teaching career in Dallas, Tex., and later moved to Denver, Colo. where she taught vocal music at several schools including Hamilton and Merrill Middle Schools and George Washington High School. She was a recipient of an annual award given by the National Association of Negro Musicians recognizing her years of contribution to the musical education of young people, and has served as co-director of the Spirituals Project Choir. She retired from teaching in 1998., Conducted July 10, 1999, in Denver, Colo.