Ithaca College associate professor of music Baruch Whitehead has had a storied and celebrated career as an innovative music educator and peace activist, directing choirs and marching bands, teaching seminars, advocating for the preservation of gospel music, and bringing the sounds of West Africa to students in New York state.

He is also working to preserve one of America’s most storied musical styles. Baruch is the founder and director of the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, a group he formed for the express purpose of keeping the spirit and performance style of the traditional “Negro Spiritual” alive. The Singers—named after civil rights pioneer and current Ithaca resident Dorothy Cotton—perform at several local events year-round, oftentimes in coordination with Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“If we could sing each other’s songs, then maybe we could start talking together."

Baruch believes that the Spiritual carries the power to promote social justice and racial healing. He also believes that music is a worldly passion with vast potential for good. He invites IC students to share in powerful experiences with the Singers—conducting, directing, singing or arranging songs for the group.

“I view myself as a citizen of the world and try to affirm and respect all cultures,” he says. “If we could sing each other’s songs, then maybe we could start talking together,” he adds, attributing the thought to African American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.