‘American Roots: The Gospel Experience’ explores the rich tradition of black gospel music in America

SARASOTA, FL – Due to community response, the streaming video of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Key Chorale collaboration, “American Roots: The Gospel Experience,” is being held over. The presentation – which is available in open-captioned and non-captioned format – will now be available through November 30.

In October 2019, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Key Chorale came together for this exuberant collaboration, which explored the rich tradition of Black gospel music in America through three sold-out performances at churches in Sarasota and Venice. The October 19th performance at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key was filmed; that is the show that is available online.

The third offering in the Key Chorale’s American Roots series, this edition brought together two of Sarasota’s most renowned performing arts groups, weaving the spirited style of WBTT’s singers, dancers and musicians with the soaring choral harmonies of the Key Chorale Chamber Singers. The high-energy performance celebrates the deeply emotional music and movement at the heart of African American worship. Highlights include “Amazing Grace,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Oh Happy Day” and “Wade in the Water.”

"It was truly a thrill to be able to put a program of this magnitude together – in partnership with the skilled singers of the Key Chorale – and perform it in area churches," said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. "Gospel music was born in churches, where African Americans could find release from the pressures of everyday life. This music played a huge role in the cultural experience of the African American community but I think all viewers will find the themes to be relatable and inspirational."

“This collaboration provided a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in a genre that has the ability to empower us, transport us, and raise our spirits unlike any other. Performing spirituals and gospel music with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was a dream come true,” said Maestro Joseph Caulkins of Key Chorale. “The combination of Key Chorale’s great singers, and WBTT’s incredible performers, was an emotional and uplifting experience that community members of all ages won’t want to miss.”

Sponsors for “American Roots: The Gospel Experience” included the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Shelley & Sy Goldblatt.

Tickets to watch the two-hour streaming video are $25 per household (with or without captions); patrons will receive an exclusive access code that is valid for 24 hours from the time that code is activated, with access ending November 30. To purchase access, go to wbtt.org; information is also available at keychorale.org.

About Key Chorale

Key Chorale, the Suncoast’s premier symphonic chorus, is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative programming, artistic excellence, educational outreach and service to the community. Key Chorale, led by Joseph Caulkins, produces high quality collaborative musical events that engage and enrich our community. Dynamic collaborations abound as they take you to unexpected places exploring almost every corner of choral music in unique one-of-a-kind concert experiences. Through dynamic collaborations with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, The Sarasota Ballet, The Venice Symphony, and The Circus Arts Conservatory, Key Chorale is able to create unforgettable programs that continue to push the boundaries of choral music. For more information, visit KeyChorale.org or facebook.com/KeyChorale.