The Rev. Dwight D. Andrews is a pastor who advocates for ministry devoted to the whole person — mind, body and soul. One of the ways his church, First Congregational Church in Atlanta, does that is through jazz music.
“Jazz always requires and encourages your individual contribution — but it is always in the context of the collective,” Andrews said in a spring 2015 interview with Reflections, the Yale Divinity School magazine. “Much in the same way that the spirituals and the blues come out of the collective African-American experience. This is of course not unique to the black experience. Bach used folk melodies.”
Andrews will serve as the chaplain at Chautauqua Institution for Week Five. He will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning service of worship and sermon on “Call and Response: The Spirituals and the Blues.” He will share his faith journey at the 5 p.m. Sunday Vespers in the Hall of Philosophy.
He will also preach at the 9:15 a.m. morning worship services Monday through Friday in the Amphitheater. His sermon topics will be “Divine Dualities,” “Wake Up, Everybody!,” “Whatever It Is,” “What A Fool Believes” and “We Are Family.”
“First, we are trying to affirm the spiritual capacity of jazz and its worth to the worship experience,” Andrews said in Reflections. “Second, we are pushing back against the internalized racist assumptions about jazz as the “devil’s music” that continue to plague our community and the world. Third, we are asserting the value of the individual creative voice in the context of the community, not in opposition to it.”
Andrews studied the classics and music theory at Cass Technical High School and led his own band called the Seven Sounds, which often opened for the group Parliament-Funkadelic.
Earning a partial scholarship to the University of Michigan in 1969, Andrews played in the marching band at two Rose Bowls and participated in the Black Action Movement.
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, Andrews went on to Yale University to earn his Master of Divinity degree and a Ph.D. in music theory.
Andrews is the senior pastor of First Congregational Church UCC in Atlanta and an associate professor of music theory and African-American music at Emory University.
As a musician, Andrews has appeared on more than 25 recordings. He has collaborated with playwright August Wilson and director Lloyd Richards, acting as musical director for the Broadway productions of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, and the revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom featuring Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton.
Andrews also provided the music direction for the revival of A Raisin in the Sun, featuring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald and Sanaa Lathan. He has numerous film credits to his name.
Andrews was the first Quincy Jones Visiting Professor of African American Music at Harvard University. He was awarded the Yale Divinity School’s prestigious Lux et Veritas Award, and will be the Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the Arts for 2015-2016 at Spelman College.