Music played an integral part in the Civil War on both the battlefields and home front. In addition to patriotic tunes, campaign songs, bugle calls, and soldier’s songs, there was the music of families waiting and praying for war’s end, and songs of hope and struggle that rose from slave quarters of African Americans whose freedom hung on its outcome. The music and songs influenced one another, giving shape to a new, uniquely American music.

During the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, three of Washington Revels’ five year-round performing ensembles are presenting music and spoken word (poetry, diaries and letters) of the Civil War era at venues including area heritage sites, museums, churches, parks and concert halls. Admission is free.


•Jubilee Voices, committed to helping preserve African-American history and traditions, sing spirituals, shouts, hollers, planting songs, field and code songs, and other songs of struggle and freedom. They will perform Sat., June 28, 1-3 pm at Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park; Sun, July 13 as part of the rededication ceremony of the Battleground National Cemetery, 6625 Georgia Avenue NW, and Wed., July 30, 7-8 pm at the Friendship Heights Village Center. Concert will be outside at the fountain in good weather; inside the center in case of rain or heat.

•Heritage Voices perform popular songs, patriotic music, parlor music, work songs, spirituals, shape note tunes, and other traditional music from the Civil War period, accompanied by the old-time Roustabout String Band. They will give a concert of Civil War-era songs and spoken word on Sat., June 7 at 8 pm at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick, and two concerts on Sat, July 12 as part of the day-long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens. 13th St. and Quackenbos St.. NW.

•Voices of History consists of professional and non-professional actors who portray historic personages from the greater D.C. area. Portrayals include Abraham Lincoln and his secretary, John Nicolay; Ann Maria Weems, a former slave on a Rockville farm who escaped to freedom on the Underground Railroad disguised as a coachboy; Johanna Plummer, a Quaker woman who owned slaves in Maryland; and others. In addition to prepared speeches and remarks, they mingle and talk with guests or attendees.

For more information on Washington Revels’ “Voices of the Civil War,” see