Expanding the Narrative: Slave Songs and Spirituals as Early Music

CONTACT: David McCormick
[email protected]
(703) 587-0483
684 Lockesley Terrace
Charlottesville, VA 22903


Early Music Access Project presents

Sunday, November 22 at 4pm
FREE Premiere on YouTube and Facebook

David McCormick, host & baroque violin
Patrick Dailey, countertenor
James Dargan, baritone
Reggie Mobley, countertenor

www.earlymusiccville.org / [email protected] / (703) 587-0483



Charlottesville-based ensemble Early Music Access Project presents Expanding the Narrative: Slave Songs and Spirituals as Early Music on Sunday, November 22 at 4pm. The premiere can be viewed for FREE on our website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page. The episode will continue to be available online after the premiere.

Early Music Access Project’s new virtual series, Expanding the Narrative, aims to center Black music and musicians in the story of early America. EMAP Artistic Director David McCormick is joined by countertenors Reggie Mobley and Patrick Dailey and baritone James Dargan for a roundtable discussion on approaching slave songs and spirituals from a historical performance perspective. Exciting connections will be made between Charlottesville’s musical past and major national trendsetters like the Fisk Jubilee Singers. All four artists will offer musical selections from their respective locations.



David McCormick performs regularly on both violin and viele (medieval fiddle) and is in demand as an educator and arts leader. He is the founding Artistic Director of Early Music Access Project (EMAP), a rotating group of musicians bringing a wide range of early music to Charlottesville, Virginia and surrounding communities. Through EMAP, David was awarded a 2020 Fellowship with the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, culminating in a series of concerts and online events exploring various aspects of music-making in Jefferson’s Virginia.

He is a founding member of Alkemie, a medieval ensemble based in New York City. With Alkemie, David has appeared at Indianapolis Early Music Festival, Music Before 1800, and Amherst Early Music Festival. He was also founding Artistic Director of Charlottesville-based baroque ensemble Three Notch’d Road, and has performed with Washington Bach Consort, Mountainside Baroque, North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, and as featured guest artist for the Bach-Handel Festival at Shenandoah University.

​David is Executive Director of the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival and former Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, where he regularly performs as soloist and chamber musician. He also serves on the board of Early Music America.

David was President of the Charlottesville Music Teachers Association for two years and has nearly two decades of teaching experience through both the public schools and his private violin and viola studio. He has offered performance practice workshops for educators, students, and performers through Virginia Music Teachers Association, James Madison University, Fordham University, Fairmount State University, and others.

His degrees in music education and performance from Shenandoah University and Case Western Reserve University include specialized training in chamber music and historical performance. He is a 2017 recipient of Shenandoah Conservatory’s Rising Stars Alumni Award.

David’s instruments include a viele by Karl Dennis and violin by Jonathan Vacanti, with period bows by Louis Bégin, Michelle Speller, Ralph Ashmead, and H. F. Grabenstein.


Patrick Dailey has been described as possessing “a powerful and elegant countertenor voice” (Los Angeles Daily News) and as a “vocal standout” (Boston Classical Review). Operatic repertoire includes Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Belize in Eötvös’ Angels in America. He performs regularly with Harlem Opera Theater, ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (NC), Soulful Symphony, Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he is a featured artist with Cook, Dixon, and Young (formally Three Mo’ Tenors). On the eve of President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, Mr. Dailey made his Kennedy Center debut singing the finale duet with Aretha Franklin in the annual Let Freedom Ring: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Mr. Dailey made his west coast operatic debut as Satirino in Cavalli’s La Calisto with Pacific Opera Project of Los Angeles in the spring of 2014. He debuted with Opera Memphis in their historic first baroque production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 2015 and soon after, won first place in Opera Ebony’s 1st Benjamin Matthews Vocal Competition. At the invitation of Trumpet Foundation founder and CEO Xernona Clayton, Mr. Dailey performed the opening invocation for the 2015 Trumpet Awards in Atlanta, GA.

In 2016, Mr. Dailey made international debuts in the United Kingdom and Brazilian premieres of Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra with the Woodhouse Opera Festival and Il Festival de Ópera Barroca de Belo Horizonte. Additionally in 2016, He made his New York Cabaret debut at the invitation of Tony Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown as a part of Brown’s broadway cabaret residency at Subculture NYC. In the spring of 2017, he debuted with Opera Louisiane as Telemaco in Michael Borowitz’s world premiere jazz-gospel orchestration of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and returned to the U.K. that fall for the international premiere of Soosan Lolavar’s I.D. Please in the Tete a Tete New Opera Festival in London. In the fall of 2018, Mr. Dailey sang the role of Mini-B/Boris the Boar in the world premiere of Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacobs’s Permadeath: A Video Game Opera with White Snakes Projects in Boston, MA to great acclaim. Mr. Dailey became the first countertenor to perform with Shreveport Opera singing Kyle in Robert Paterson’s Three Way: Masquerade in 2019. The remainder of his 2018/2019 season included debuts and appearances with the Austin Baroque Orchestra, the IRIS Orchestra of Memphis, Music By Women Festival, and Boston Early Music Festival.

In the summers of 2015 and 2016, Mr. Dailey was a young artist with the American Bach Soloists. Concert repertoire includes Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Magnificat, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Mass in C, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Mr. Dailey sang the world premiere of Frederick Douglas: The Making of an American Prophet by Grammy Award winning country songwriter Marcus Hummon in 2016 and debuted with the Grand Rapids Symphony singing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms in 2017. He is featured in Fatherhood, a documentary directed by award winning London based director, Ben Gregor, which premiered on FUSE TV in 2019. Additionally, Mr. Dailey is a featured artist on the debut album of acclaimed duo Louis York, American Griots released in 2019 and Adrian Dunn’s Redemption Live in Chicago, released in 2020.

Growing in his reputation as a scholar, he was invited to the Center for Black Music Research’s inaugural Black Vocality Symposium in 2013 to give a performative presentation entitled “The Anatomy of the Black Voice: Peculiarities, Challenges, and Regional Differences.” Since that time, he has been a visiting artist, masterclass clinician, and guest lecturer at Southern University and A&M College, Prairie View A&M University, the University of Arkansas, and Vanderbilt University, among others. Mr. Dailey was lead soloist and served as vocal music curator of the official MLK50 Commemoration at the National Civil Rights Museum on April 4, 2018 in Memphis, TN. In fall of 2019, he presented at the inaugural Harry T. Burleigh Week organized by the Burleigh Legacy Alliance of Burleigh’s hometown, Erie, PA.

Mr. Dailey is a graduate of Morgan State University and received his masters of music in voice and opera from Boston University. In addition to an active performing schedule, Mr. Dailey currently serves on the voice faculty at Tennessee State University (TSU). At TSU, he established the Big Blue Opera Initiatives (BBOI) and the annual Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival. Additionally, he is the founder and artistic director of the W. Crimm Singers (aka Wakanda Chorale), professional ensemble in residence of BBOI and a co-founding member of Early Music City, a historically informed crossover ensemble. Mr. Dailey holds membership in the National Association of Negro Musicians, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc.


James Dargan is a polymath creative artist, athlete, polyglot, musician and writer, raised in the Deep South and – after a childhood spent at the Duke University String School and NC School of the Arts – educated in New and Old England.

While at Boston University, James studied violin with Nicholas Kitchen (the first violinist of the acclaimed Borromeo Quartet, still in residence at NEC), and completed bachelor’s degrees in Literature, Religion, and Musicology, all the while singing and acting in various choirs and stage productions, fencing, and writing his thesis under the aegis of his advisor, the late poet Geoffrey Hill.

While in the UK, James studied English Literature in the graduate program at Leeds University, continued to play the violin, and began to find his voice as a singer, working as a Lay Clerk in the Choir of the renowned York Minster.

After York, James returned to Boston, where he sang with groups as diverse as The Choir of the Church of The Advent, Boston Baroque, and Lowell House Opera, continued to play and teach violin, and added composition and outreach work to his portfolio. He’s studied voice with Dr. Lynn Eustis, Neil Semer, Peter Harvey, and Dr. Claudia Friedlander, and recently attended the prestigious Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, on a full scholarship.

James is based in New York, where he sings in the choir of All Souls UU church, freelances around Manhattan (most recently with Musica Sacra, the choir of St. John The Divine, and the Bard Festival Chorus) and continues to pursue social justice through the arts. In 2016 he taught composition at 4 different schools and made his debut at Bard College’s Summerfest.

Recent artistic milestones include his first Schubert’s Winterreise; numerous performances (past and upcoming) of his social justice-oriented recital “Oh, Glory!”; his Manhattan solo debut as the baritone soloist for Musica Viva NY’s April 2018 concert, “Infinite Hope”; several NYC premieres of songs for which James was lyricist, composer, and performer; and the in-progress writing of his first opera: The Legend of John Henry. James was also the artist-in-residence at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA for the 2019 MLK Day weekend, recently completed a tour of Chicago in which he sang 6 recitals in 5 days, and was the 2019-2020 Visiting Artist at Phillips Academy.


Noted for his ‘purity of timbre’ and ‘homogeneity of tone’, countertenor Reginald Mobley is highly sought after for baroque, classical and modern repertoire.

Recent highlights include an extensive tour of sixteen concerts around Europe singing Bach’s Matthäus Passion with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. He also performed concerts of Händel’s Messiah with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Purcell’s King Arthur with the Academy of Ancient Music in London and Mozart Requiem with Orkiestra Historyczna in Poland.

Reggie also made his Paris recital debut at the Musée d’Orsay in May 2019 which was
enthusiastically received, and recently completed a tour of Germany and Belgium with
Balthasar Neumann Chor & Ensemble, performing Bach Cantatas and Händel Dixit Dominus, and a further tour of Germany with Freiburger Barockorchester under Kristian Bezuidenhout. He also recently performed Händel’s Messiah with the Händel and Haydn Society (H+H) under Masaaki Suzuki, and made his debut in Hong Kong with Methodist International Church.

In a world untouched by Covid-19, 2020 would have included a performance of Händel’s Messiah with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, projects with Philharmonia Baroque and Pacific MusicWorks, and a recital at Columbia university with acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein. In the 2021 season, he will sing Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and embark on a European tour of Bach’s St. John Passion with the Monteverdi Choir.

Outside of singing, Reggie enjoys an active relationship as a director with H+H, leading the ensemble in its efforts to reintegrate the ensemble within the concerns of its home community of Boston, a position which made him the first Black person to conduct the ensemble in its 200+ year existence. His role will be expanded in the ‘21-’22 season in the newly created position of Programming Consultant, a role that directly connects to his work as a political and social activist in Boston.



Founded in 2017, Early Music Access Project is a rotating group of musicians with a mission to bring a wide range of early music to Charlottesville and surrounding communities through concerts and educational events.

We explore the connections between various styles, including medieval, Renaissance, baroque, new music composed for old instruments, and folk music. We also collaborate with non-classical musicians, visual artists, dancers, actors, poets, and a variety of other creative individuals. We aim to reach diverse audiences through non-traditional venues, reasonable ticket prices and engaging programming.


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