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Shades Of Yale Brings Songs From The Black Diaspora To The Virtual Stage

(SOUNDBITE OF SHADES OF YALE SONG, "AMEN/WE SHALL OVERCOME")

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

May is the month for college commencements. It also marks the end of spring a capella season.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMEN/WE SHALL OVERCOME")

SHADES OF YALE: (Singing) Amen.

SIMON: Students aren't on campus right now to gather for concerts, but some groups have taken their spring concerts online. Shades of Yale is one of Yale University's premiere vocal groups. And they sing music from the black diaspora.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMEN/WE SHALL OVERCOME")

SHADES OF YALE: (Singing) We shall overcome.

SIMON: That's Shades of Yale singing its arrangement of "Amen" and "We Shall Overcome" during its virtual spring concert. Gabrielle Barnes is a sophomore at Yale and a member of Shades. Thanks so much for being with us.

GABRIELLE BARNES: Thank you for having me here.

SIMON: Tell us about this song. I gather it's in all of your concerts.

BARNES: Yes, it actually is. We usually sing it after every major concert, and it's also one of our alumni songs. So any alumni that are in the audience are welcome to go up on stage and sing with us. So it's a really special song that we have.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMEN/WE SHALL OVERCOME")

SHADES OF YALE: (Singing) Amen, amen, amen.

SIMON: And I gather you want to dedicate this song right now to students who are graduating from remote locations around the world.

BARNES: Yeah, I just - I want them to know that spirituals and gospel hymns have always been sung in times of joy but also in times of struggle. So, you know, obviously, the coronavirus has impacted all of the graduates in some shape or form. So this song "Amen" and "We Shall Overcome" is an acknowledgment of the difficult time that you guys are in but also a way to uplift you, encourage you and tell you that you guys will conquer this situation, and you guys will come out strong.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMEN/WE SHALL OVERCOME")

SHADES OF YALE: (Singing) We shall overcome. Someday, someday, someday.

SIMON: That is so beautiful. Before we go out and as the music plays, could we ask you to sing along a bit with the song?

BARNES: Of course.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMEN/WE SHALL OVERCOME")

SHADES OF YALE AND GABRIELLE BARNES: (Singing) Amen. Amen, amen, amen.

BARNES: (Singing) Sisters and brothers.

SHADES OF YALE AND GABRIELLE BARNES: (Singing) We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday. Someday, day, day. Someday.

SIMON: Shades of Yale and Gabrielle Barnes singing "Amen" and "We Shall Overcome.," a tribute to students across the country who graduate this month. Thanks so much for being with us. You made a lot of people feel better. And there's nothing more valuable in life right now.

BARNES: Thank you so much for allowing me to be here and spread this joy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.