Measha Brueggergosman started classical piano and singing lessons when she was seven years old. Now a classically trained opera singer, Brueggergosman is strongly influenced by the Brunswick Street Baptist Church and her exploration of African-American spirituals.
“It is helping me to become a better musician. But there is another reason why spirituals are so important to me. I wanted to explore this repertoire because it’s dear to my heart. These spirituals are close to my Christian faith. They are also a very important part of my family’s history. It is the music of my people. My ancestors were stolen from Africa and sold into slavery in the United States before finding freedom in Nova Scotia. The spirituals were born out of a time when my people were oppressed and needed to find a way not only to communicate with each other, but also to express themselves. They created a powerful snapshot of their lives that still resonates with people today. The reason the songs survived so long is because of their immediacy. They have the universality of a mournful yet hopeful existence. They have strength. Every group of people who have held their elbows out to create room for themselves has these kinds of songs. My people have spirituals, which played a huge part in how my ancestors came to be here – free, no longer owned, no longer stolen – on the east coast of Canada.”