Denver group working to preserve African American "spirituals"

Group wants to preserve African American "spirituals"

Denver — In honor of Black History Month, CBS News met a group on a mission to preserve and revive a rich musical treasure. The Denver choir is unique: the historic songs they sing are called "spirituals" created by enslaved African Americans to express virtue in the face of suffering.

Alice Rasberry, 86, has been in the group, The Spirituals Project, for a decade.

"History is so important," Raspberry told CBS News. "We sang them all the time. We learned spirituals when I was in grade school."

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The Spirituals Project CBS News

Some of the songs are known to have double-meaning.

"They Were able to encode these messages — within the music such that they could communicate — right under the noses of their slave masters," M. Roger Holland II, director of The Spirituals Project, said.

Roger Holland directs the multicultural choir and said it's "absolutely" important to him that the group reaches beyond the African American community. Remembering those deprived of freedom and families, but who never lost their soul.