Archives and Special Collections
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Historical Note

Scope and Content Note


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Collection
Title:John Ross papers
Dates:1963–2006
Call Number: M70

Scope and Content Note

The John Ross papers document his work as music director of Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts (ELSFA) and National Center of Afro–American Artists (NCAAA), and his professional activities outside of them. The majority of the collection concerns musical arrangements by John Ross and performances of either Ross or the NCAAA. These include sheet music, scripts, advertisements, programs, and cast lists. The Sheet Music Arrangements consist of John Ross's personal and professional arrangements. Documentation of NCAAA's annual Black Nativity event figures prominently in the collection as does his arrangements of popular hymns and gospels.The collection also contains administrative, programmatic, audiovisual, and student records of the ELSFA and NCAAA. Included are budgets, proposals, applications, schedules, student lists, organizational information, and correspondence. Records documenting the financial operations of the ELSFA can be found in the NCAAA Financial folders. Other records include information about the Museum of the National Center of Afro–American Artists, Elma Lewis (founder of the ELSFA and the NCAAA), the National Black Music Colloquium and Competition, and the annual festivals of African Diaspora.

The audio material includes recorded performances of Black Nativity: a CD Master DAT tape from 1995, a mini–disc from December 8, 1996, and a commercially produced cassette tape recording from 1995. In addition, Ross's 1997 compilation of gospel recordings, "Comin up Shoutin," is included on CD along with two reel–to–reel tapes of Randy Weston performing with the Boston Pops in 1981. During this performance, Weston sang "Three African Queens: Blues for Elma Lewis."There is one cassette tape containing personal recordings of "Spiritual tradition in the U.S." and "The Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival," both recorded in 1997. The collection also includes a small number of photographs of John Ross and various performances.

Records relating to his work outside of ELSFA and NCAAA include information about his book Climbing Jacob's Ladder, his involvement with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), his involvement in the Unitarian Universalist Musician's Network, his work as musical director and organist for First Parish Church, the annual festival of African Diaspora, and his notes and correspondence concerning the many musical performances he was involved with. Of particular interest are the multiple musical arrangements by Ross of the Hogwarts school song taken from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first book in the Harry Potter series. The collection also contains a series of notebooks kept by Mr. Ross noting his day–to–day activities and appointments.