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Black Arts: The Inspiration

February 12, 2014

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The Inspiration is the University of Pennsylvania’s only a cappella group dedicated to celebrating music written and performed by members of the African diaspora. The mission of the group is to entertain and educate audiences through performance of music from a wide range of genres while honoring the legacy of African diasporic peoples in music.

The Inspiration was founded in 1989 by a group of Penn students that noticed a void in the representation of music in Penn’s existing a cappella community. R&B, gospel, hip-hop, “world music” from the African diaspora, and Negro spirituals are only a short list of genres that were grossly underrepresented in Penn’s a cappella community.

Twenty-five years since the groups founding, the Inspiration’s repertoire includes arrangements of pieces from diverse artists ranging from South Africa’s Lady Blacksmith Mambazo, to Whitney Houston, to more contemporary artists like Lianne La Havas. For its members and alumni, the Inspiration is an invaluable musical outlet for students to create, learn, and perform a cappella arrangements that celebrate the brilliance, innovation, and beauty of Black music.

Nina Blalock CAS’14

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