Baylor University of Waco, TX recently received $1.5 million for the creation of an endowed faculty position that will build on the work of the university’s Black Music Restoration Project.
The donation will provide for “its own faculty chair, giving Baylor the funding to and personnel to expand and continue the research and scholarship in Black worship, preaching and studies,” according to Baylor Lariat.
Charles Royce founded “The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project” in 2005 after he read “Baylor Professor Robert [Darden’s] New York Times op-ed calling for the preservation of the quickly vanishing of Black Gospel tapes and recordings.”
Since then, the program has grown and garnered support from those like The Prichard Family Foundation and Ella Wall Prichard, who gifted the $1.5 million to the University in early March.
The Prichard family became involved in the foundation in 2008 when Ella and her husband, Lev Prichard, “came to campus for their grandson’s official visit,” according to the Lariat. Lev read the same op-ed column as Royce and agreed to attend the trip if he could meet Professor Darden.
During Lev’s time at Baylor, he toured the school and listened to different gospel music. “Those old songs were more than an affinity – they represented a deep love of music that had been nurtured in him at a young age,” Ella recalled.
Lev became so fascinated with Baylor University and the Black Music Restoration Project that he “made his last gift to Baylor a split between scholarships and the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project” before passing in 2009.
While Darden’s article influenced the Black Gospel Restoration Project, at Baylor he has served as the professor of journalism, public relations, and new media.
He feels that “Baylor, as one of the preeminent universities in the world with a historic emphasis on faith, is the perfect place to study and celebrate African American sacred music.”