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“Lowcountry” collaborators celebrate Gullah culture and pride

“Lowcountry” collaborators celebrate Gullah culture and pride
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The only place composer Matt White thought he might be able to perform his 2023 album Lowcountry was Spoleto Festival USA. 

With a jazz band, a string section and vocalists, the live version of Lowcountry involves more than 20 musicians. White and his collaborators will perform at 9 p.m. on June 2 in the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard. 

“When people would ask us when we were going to tour it, I would joke and say, ‘The only way we could ever do this live would be at a place like Spoleto,’” White said. “There would have to be enough resources to bring all these people together logistically to make it happen.”

White, who chairs the jazz studies program at the University of South Carolina School of Music, was introduced to the Gullah culture that inspired Lowcountry by his research partner, Coastal Carolina musicologist Eric Crawford. The two visited Saint Helena Island, one of the sea islands that is home to Gullah communities – descendants of enslaved people brought to the Carolinas from Central and Western Africa.  

A rich tradition of Gullah language and songs 

In Gullah culture, songs and stories are passed down through generations. Gullah elders told White that they feared the loss of this oral tradition. 







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