FORT WORTH, Texas --- On Thursday, September 22 at the Amon Carter Museum, Jubilee Theatre actors Blake Moorman and Janice Jeffery will present a dramatic reading of several poems from the classic book of poetry God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927) by James Weldon Johnson. The dramatic reading will be held in the Carter’s Works on Paper Gallery, where the permanent-collection exhibition The Art of Twentieth-Century American Illustrators is on view. The program begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Jubilee Theatre produced a musical based on God’s Trombones that was first presented during its 1989--90 season. “God’s Trombones quickly became one of the most popular productions the theatre has ever done,” Moorman said, “so we have presented it every four years since then. We are looking forward to reading some of Johnson’s poems at the Carter, where visitors can also see the book and its amazing illustrations.”
The Art of Twentieth-Century American Illustrators, which highlights artist-illustrators working between the two World Wars, features an edition of God’s Trombones from the Carter’s library. The book was published by Johnson at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. He selected artist Aaron Douglas, a rising star in Harlem’s intellectual and creative scene, to illustrate the book.
“Douglas’ illustrations, with their silhouetted angular figures activated by overlapping arcs and rays of light, convey the rhythmic cadence of Johnson’s verse,” said Jane Myers, senior curator of prints and drawings.
About God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse
The title of this compilation of poems by James Weldon Johnson (1871--1938) refers to a series of sermons that were often delivered by African-American preachers; it was directly inspired by a Kansas City preacher whose sonorous voice reminded the poet of a trombone. The book includes a preface by Johnson, in which he expressed his hope that the poems would demonstrate the oratorical skills of black clergymen and increase the respect granted to them. Johnson was one of many important figures in the Harlem Renaissance who worked to publicize the artistic achievements of African-Americans, hoping that a reassessment of their culture might help undermine the racism that was prevalent in American society in the 1920s.
The Star-Telegram is the official print sponsor of the Amon Carter Museum.