Singing the Nation Into Being

Singing the Nation is a digital humanities project that features a collection of performances of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by a variety of singers in various milieu to consider the ways in which Black subjectivity, nation, and diaspora are constituted and contested vis-à-vis singing of “The Black National Anthem.” Although this project focuses primarily on black women’s performances to examine how their public enactments of nation critique raced and gendered notions of belonging, the site offers a range of performers—small groups, individuals, choirs, mashups, etc.—and a variety of vocal and presentation stylings from a cappella to concert performances to short filmic enactments. “Singing the Nation Into Being” invites us to examine the ways in which each performance highlights the strategies enacted through the textual, sonic, and bodied performance of a “nation with a nation” (DuBois) as well as the limits of these performance.

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