DHS Mitchell Center invites you to hear the Singing & Praying Bands of Maryland & Delaware as they share their distinct a cappella style of sacred music which can be traced back to the time of slavery. The group has 50 active members who are keeping this tradition alive by sharing it in churches and at a variety of community events across the Mid-Atlantic and the South. In 2014, they received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. The Singing and Praying Bands grew out of Delaware’s earliest African American religious communities. Band members would gather after a church service, prayer meeting or camp meeting and sing hymns by lining out each verse. Within these sacred spaces, people could come for fellowship and inspiration. The bands, which blended West African and Methodist worship traditions, were part of early Methodist prayer meetings that Richard Allen, Harriet Tubman and others regularly attended. Such services gave profound, lasting and physical expression to the idea of freedom and the reality of community among enslaved and free African Americans.