FREEHOLD – Close to 100 guests heard music, learned fascinating stories, and met some of the people featured in the “Spirituals to Soul: African American Musical Heritage in Monmouth 1880-1980”exhibition now on display at the Monmouth County Historical Association Museum at the curators talk Wednesday evening.

    Guests enjoyed a presentation by music historians Pamela and Charles Horner at the museum at 70 Court St., before going into the museum for a tour of the exhibition and a reception with the Horners.


   ”This has been an exciting exhibition for the Museum to have,” said Association President Linda Bricker, in introducing the Horners at the beginning of the program. While several hundred guests have already visited the exhibition, Bricker noted that it remains open through Nov. 7.

     Association Director Evelyn C. Murphy, Ph.D also pointed out that for the first time, visitors to the museum will be able to use individual listening devices to provide guests samples of the musical genres being featured. Visitors with Android phones can download the Association’s app in the Google Play store.

    During the presentation, Horner pointed out noteworthy items that deserve a closer look, notably the wax cylinder and the printed programs of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a focal point of the Spirituals section of the exhibition. The Jubilee Singers began performances in Red Bank in 1882 and were recorded on a wax cylinder, itself a collector’s item. Wax cylinders predated phonograph records and were also invented by another New Jerseyan, Thomas Edison.

   Also noteworthy are a uniform from the 1970’s era of the Missionary Jubilaires, the unique guitar of William Farley, who was a member of the Jubiliares and United Gospel Singers, signs and photos from the original Turf Club and Asbury Park Armory, Bobby Thomas’ guitar, complete with its carrying case and built-in amp and speaker, as well as Thomas’ uniform jacket and microphone, and rare photos of the Broadways from the 1960s.

Monmouth County Historical Association is a private non-profit organization that has been working to preserve history and provide educational opportunities since its founding in 1898.  The Historical Association’s Museum and Library is located at 70 Court Street in Freehold.  Museum hours are: Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Library is open Wednesdays through Saturdays.  The Historic Houses are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from May 1 through September 30, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  For further information about the Association, please call (732) 462-1466 or visit the web site at 

Monmouth County Historical Association received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...