Pruit Symposium Celebrates Black Sacred Music at the Intersection of Gospel and Jazz

  • 2019 Pruit Symposium
  • Dr. Melvin Butler
    Melvin Butler, Ph.D., associate professor of musicology at the University of Miami, will be the keynote speaker and lead an evening gospel for the 2019 Pruit Symposium, “Lord Make Me An Instrument: Black Sacred Music at the Intersection of Gospel and Jazz,” which celebrates the heritage of Black Sacred Music.
Feb. 4, 2019

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (Feb. 4, 2019) – The 2019 Pruit Symposium, “Lord Make Me An Instrument: Black Sacred Music at the Intersection of Gospel and Jazz,” will celebrate the heritage of Black Sacred Music Thursday, Feb. 7, at Baylor University with an inspiring keynote presentation and gospel sing featuring Melvin Butler, Ph.D., associate professor of musicology at the University of Miami.

The keynote lecture and gospel sing are free and open to the public.

Butler’s keynote presentation, “Getting in Tune: Gospel Music, Instrumentality and Embodiment,” will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Armstrong Browning Library, 710 Speight Ave., on the Baylor campus.

“I’ll explore the use of instruments as extensions of the human voice in contexts of African-American worship and in gospel music recordings,” Butler said. “In terms of understanding African-American experiences, these overlapping musical genres offer us a window into the struggles and triumphs of men and women who, in many cases, have endured distinctly brutal forms of oppression and nevertheless found ways to give voice to a transcendent hope and joy.”

At 6:30 p.m., Waco’s Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church will host the gospel sing and celebration. Butler and Horace Maxile, Ph.D., associate professor of music theory in the Baylor School of Music and keyboardist and men’s choir director at Toliver Chapel, will lead the session. They will be joined by Edward Taylor, senior lecturer in the Baylor School of Music, on the drums and local jazz musician Chuck Jennings playing guitar. Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church is located at 1402 Elm Ave. in Waco.

The Pruit Memorial Symposium at Baylor University brings the perspective of Christian intellectual tradition on contemporary issues of common concern. Through the articulation of differing views within the realm of Christian understanding, Baylor aspires to be a locus for a distinctly Protestant and Christian worldview that is true to the best thoughts in Baptist tradition.

In 1996, Ella Wall Prichard and the late Lev H. Prichard III of Corpus Christi established the Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment Fund in memory of Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit.

“We are grateful to the Prichard family and those who make this event possible,” said Kathy Hillman, associate professor and coordinator of the Pruit Memorial Symposium Committee. “These broad-based partnerships bring together individuals, churches, the community and Baylor University to enrich the celebration of gospel music, jazz and Black History Month.”

The 2019 Pruit Symposium is made possible by the Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment. This year’s event is co-sponsored by the Baylor University Libraries, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor School of Music, department of history, department of religion and department of journalism, public relations and new media.

For more information about the 2019 Pruit Symposium, visit


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


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