Our Story


Meridian Herald

Meridian Herald engages musical, literary and spiritual traditions to affirm shared humanity, advance enduring truth, enrich the present and transform the future for individuals and communities.

Pursuing our mission from our founding in 1997 through this our 23rd season, Meridian Herald offers a wide range of programming.

Our principal performing medium is the Meridian Chorale, which comprises many of the finest choral singer-vocal soloist in North Georgia. Conducted by Steven Darsey in the tradition of Robert Shaw, their repertoire spans the gamut of concert vocal music.  The Chorale’s singing has been said to “change lives” and has been likened to “hearing stained glass.” Please see information on the Chorale and Steven Darsey here.

Founded on important regional traditions, our Folk Advent and Folk Passion programs are original creations based on texts and tunes from Georgia’s 1844 Sacred Harp tunebook.  Our camp meetings, in addition to preaching and prayer, include authentic 19th century camp meeting songs and vernacular hymns as well as Native American songs. Rooted in folkways, yet imbued with contemporary idioms, these events strengthen appreciation for the wisdom of previous eras and thus fulfill a unique and vital need of contemporary culture.

Beyond American heritage and Western canonical classical works, our programs, especially our Science and Theology events, have included readings and songs from Native American, Indian Muslim, Druid, Egyptian, Taizé, Tao Te Ching repertories; an excerpt of the opera Gilgamesh by Stephan Dickman, as well as the premiere of Darsey’s aleatoric work on the Christian chant, “Ubi Caritas,” the Hebrew traditional melody, “Ki hiney kahomer,” and from Sufi spiritual song, “Tere dar se jo,” offered as a prayer for universal healing.

Our Atlanta Music Festivals are dedicated to advancing harmony among communities. These feature traditional works as well as important contemporary works of African American composers. Steven Darsey’s research revealed the common use of the folk hymn “Bound for the Promised Land” in 19th century African American and white cultures, inspiring him to paraphrase words from Barack Obama’s speech, “A More Perfect Union,” words which composer Adolphus Hailstork employed in his arrangement of this tune, commissioned for our 2016 Festival and soon to be published by Theodore Presser.

The breadth and depth of Meridian Herald’s exploration of history, culture, and spirituality is seen in its featured performers and collaborators, including renowned preachers and story‐tellers Fred Craddock, Brooks Holifield, and Will Willimon, actress Brenda Bynum, poet, novelist, and playwright Pearl Cleage, composer T.J. Anderson, composer and jazz musician Dwight Andrews, opera stars Indra Thomas, Kevin Burdette, Laquita Mitchell, Morris Robinson, Jessye Norman, speakers Taylor Branch, Robert Franklin, Ambassador Andrew Young, the Morehouse College Glee Club, Emory archivists Randall Burkett and Pellom McDaniels, and the late Rudolph Byrd of Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute, among others. For more information, see www.atlantamusicfestival.org.

Meridian Herald’s programs and local television broadcasts and public radio stories have attracted audiences of thousands. Its CDs and presentations at national conferences have carried traditional cultural values to national audiences. Through advancing culture, music, and worship and bridging communities and traditions of the past and present, Meridian Herald strives to benefit present and future generations.

Meridian Herald receives Georgia Governor’s Award for The Arts and Humanities

The Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities honor outstanding individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to Georgia’s civic and cultural vitality through service to the humanities or excellence in the arts.