The 2020 Pruit Memorial Symposium features Grammy Award winner Dr. Cedric Dent, professor of music at Middle Tennessee State University. Dent will offer a public presentation and headline a gospel sing on February 4.
At 3:30 p.m. in Armstrong Browning Library Dent will present "David and Goliath: Gospel Music in Word and Song," which examines the music of the a cappella sextet Take 6 and its place in the tradition of black gospel music. At 6:30 p.m., Dent will be joined by Truett Seminary student Joslyn Henderson and other musicians for a gospel sing, "Fly Away: Gospel Music in Word," that will sonically explore the history of black gospel music. The gospel sing will be held at Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at 1402 Elm Street in Waco. Both events are free and open to the public.
"'David and Goliath' is my favorite Take 6 performance. It was the song that caught the ear of a record label exec at the Nashville division of Warner Bros. Records and led to our first recording contract in 1987," said Dent. "The song was first recorded by The Jubilee Four twenty-five years earlier, which is how we became familiar with it. Comparing our performance to the original gives people a better understanding of gospel music generally and black gospel in particular."
From 1985-2011, Dent sang baritone with Take 6, recording 11 albums that sold millions of copies while garnering eight Grammy Awards and 10 Dove awards. In 2013, Dent received the Heritage Music Award from the National Association of Negro Musicians and, in 2014, rejoined Take 6 for the group's induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
"We've been trying to get Dr. Cedric Dent to Baylor for the past three years. The man is incredibly busy!" said Robert Darden, professor of journalism and co-chair of the Pruit Symposium. "He's a nationally acclaimed composer, choral director, arranger, performer, and one of the very best scholars in the business. And he's one of the few people I know who has fans in both the popular and academic worlds."
Since 2013, Baylor's Pruit Symposium has highlighted black sacred music as a way of bringing the perspective of the Christian intellectual tradition to contemporary issues of common concern. The Baylor Libraries' Black Gospel Music Restoration Project is an ongoing effort to preserve and curate the cultural heritage of black sacred music. The venture, initiated by Darden and managed by the Digital Preservation Services team of the Baylor Libraries, continues to expand its collection and will soon extend its efforts to the preservation of black preaching alongside the "golden era" of black gospel music.
“We’re excited that Baylor continues to be at the forefront of highlighting and preserving black sacred music and eagerly anticipate new efforts to preserve the black preaching that both inspired and was inspired by gospel music,” stated Kathy Hillman, associate professor and Symposium co-chair.
The 2020 Pruit Symposium is made possible by the Pruit Symposium Endowment, which was established in 1996 by Ella Wall Prichard and the late Lev H. Prichard III of Corpus Christi in memory of Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit. The symposium is sponsored by the Baylor Libraries, the Department of Journalism, New Media and Public Relations, the Department of Religion, and the Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.