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NPR Releases ‘Wade in the Water’ 26-Part Series on 25th Anniversary, Produced by Howard Faculty and Alumni

WASHINGTON – Howard University has made an impact on music with alumni and faculty pouring into the field from many angles. One impactful moment was through the Peabody award-winning, 26-part radio series, “Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions.” For the 25th anniversary, the series is on NPR One .

Sonja Williams and Judith Moore Latta of Howard University at NPR - source Howard University.jpg“A lesser known fact is that Howard University also loomed large in this groundbreaking, widely distributed and enthusiastically received production,” said Senior Producer Judi Moore Latta and Associate Producer Sonja Williams.

According to the  NPR press release, the series is being re-released on NPR One and originally aired in 1994 as a first-time partnership between NPR and the Smithsonian Institution. The Peabody Award-winning series documents the history and impact of Black American music through sacred song, storytelling, and historical analysis. In the first episode, host Bernice Johnson Reagon noted that for African Americans, sacred music and “church was like food, nourishment for the spirit or the soul.” Through archival and live performances recorded just for the series, Wade in the Water preserves the , wisdom, and faith of a people whose musical traditions, including spirituals, lined hymns, quartets, and gospels.

The series is hosted by Reagon, the conceptual producer, who is a historian, artist, and Howard alumna whom received her Ph.D. in history. 

Moore Latta and Williams are professors in Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications. They were joined by Howard University alumni, then student interns, TaJuan Mercer, Michael Johnson and Larry Shields, who played integral roles in the production. Additionally, executive producer and alumna Sandra Rattley along with fellow alumni and production assistants Njemille Jones, Joseph Gill, Dackeyia Simmons Sterling and Beverly Oliver, joined the production.

The musical production included the Howard University Concert Choir and alumnus Richard Smallwood and the Richard Smallwood Singers were featured performers in this multiple award-winning production.  

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(Feature photo (left to right): Sonja Williams and Judith Moore Latta, Ph.D., at NPR station in Washington, D.C. next to the imagery of the Wade in the Water series – source Howard University)

About NPR Music

For more than a decade, NPR Music’s robust music journalism and award-winning original video programming has delighted millions of music fans from all genres. NPR Music collaborates with NPR’s news magazines, public radio Member stations and the passionate listener to celebrate exceptional music and discover emerging artists. Visit NPRMusic.org to find the complete Tiny Desk concert series, music feature stories, extensive archives of performances, interviews and music reviews. Connect with NPR Music on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.  For more information on Howard University visit www.howard.edu

Media : Imani Pope-Johns, [email protected]                      


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