University of Arizona
College of Fine Arts - School of Music

Choral Studies

Distinguished Speakers Series – Students and Alumni/ae

Donté A. Ford

Gospel Music, American Music & The Choral Canon

Donté Alexander Ford is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania an alumnus of Penn State (BA) and Southern Methodist Universities (MSM, MM, MDiv). He is Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Chaplain for Worship Arts at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. At Wheaton, Donté teaches Principles in Music and Worship Ministry, coaches Chapel Bands, oversees the music and worship arts offerings in Chapel worship, and serves as the primary faculty advisor for the Worship Arts Certificate.  

Best described as a musician, minister, and scholar, Donté’s many musical talents have afforded him the opportunity to serve as guest clinician/conductor, lead pianist, opera chorister, resident percussionist, and Minister of Music. He is a published composer with GIA Publications, Inc., and is the founder and Artistic Director of Sankofa Chorale, a multi-ethnic choral ensemble that preserves and perpetuates African American Choral music while performing that music alongside choral masterworks of the Western European choral canon. As a scholar, Donté focuses his efforts on the history and preservation of Black American concert and popular music, church hymnody, congregational song, and the history, theology, and music of African American Pentecostalism. His scholarly work includes lectures on African American choral art forms and contributions to the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and UM Discipleship Ministries’ History of Hymns. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of Arizona with a minor in Choral Music Studies.

Bibliography/Further Reading

  • Abbington, James ed. Readings in African American Church Music and Worship Volume 2. Chicago: GIA Publications Inc, 2014.
  • Callahan, Allen Dwight. The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
  • Lincoln, Eric C. and Lawrence H. Mamiya. The Black Church in the African American Experience. Durham: Duke University Press, 1990.
  • Murphy, Larry G. Down by the Riverside: Readings in African American Religion. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
  • Reagon, Bernice Johnson ed. We’ll Understand It Better By and By. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1992.
  • Turner, Steve. An Illustrated History of Gospel: Gospel Music from Early Spirituals to Contemporary Urban. Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2010.
  • Wise, Raymond. “Defining African American Music by Tracing its Historical and Musical Development from 1900–2000.”PhD diss., The Ohio State University, 2002.

Lecture Repertoire List

  • “Precious Lord” – Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey
  • “Up Above My Head” – Negro Spritiaul; Rosetta Tharpe
  • “Oh How Wondrous” – John P. Kee
  • “Psalm 96: Oh Give Thanks” – A. Jeffery LaValley
  • “Psalm 23” – Eddie James & Colourblind
  • “God Be With You” – Kenneth Morris
  • “Praise God From Whom” (Doxology) – Roberta Martin
  • “He Will Not Turn His Back on Me” – Thompson Community Choir
  • “I Thank You Lord” – Mattie Moss Clark and the Southwest Michigan State Choir (The Church of God in Christ)
  • “Something’s Got a Hold of Me” – James Cleveland
  • “Oh Happy Day” – Edwin Hawkins and the Northern California State Youth Choir (The Church of God in Christ)
  • “Soon and Very Soon” -Andrae Crouch and The Operation Push Choir
  • “Jesus Christ is the Way” – Walter Hawkins
  • “Oh How Precious” – Myrna Summers and the Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir
  • “I Shall Wear A Crown” – Min. Thomas Whitfield and The Thomas Whitfield Company
  • “I Love the Lord” – Richard Smallwood and The Unio Temple Young Adult Choir
  • “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” – Richard Smallwood and The Richard Smallwood Singers
  • Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration
    • “Comfort Ye” – Daryl Coley and Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Soloists
    • “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion” – The Richard Smallwood Singers
    • “Hallelujah”
  • “Lacrimosa” from Requiem – Mozart; Isaac Cates and Ordained
  • “Hallelujah: Hallelujah is the Highest Praise” – Beethoven; Anthony Pattin; Patrick Lundy and the Ministers’ of Music