City of Erie to Honor Harry T. Burleigh

Tuesday Nov 19th, 2019

harry t
HTB Alston
Harry T. Burleigh

Through its New Horizons initiative, Erie Arts & Culture has provided funding to The Burleigh Legacy Alliance to launch the inaugural Harry T. Burleigh Week in Erie on December 2, 2019. Throughout the week, Burleigh, an Erie native and internationally renowned African American singer, composer, and music editor, will be formally honored by the City of Erie with a proclamation making December 2nd, Harry T. Burleigh Day in Erie, Pennsylvania on the 153rd anniversary of his birth.

Leading up to the event, the Burleigh Legacy Alliance has worked closely with the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission to create an updated historical marker for Harry T. Burleigh, replacing the historical marker located near the Erie Insurance campus. The newly cast marker will include additional information about Burleigh, clearly stating that Burleigh was African American - a fact that was omitted from the original marker.

Burleigh celebration events are scheduled throughout the week, led by an array of community partners. Additionally, the Burleigh Legacy Alliance and Erie Arts & Culture will create a pop-up Burleigh exhibit and bookstore at 423 State Street (former Erie Art Museum Frame Shop), thanks to the Erie Downtown Development Corporation. Visitors to the exhibit will learn, first-hand, about Burleigh’s legacy and will have the opportunity to purchase books that document the life and career of an Erie, hometown hero. Dr. Jean E. Snyder’s book Harry T. Burleigh: from the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance will be one of the books available for purchase. CDs featuring the Episcopal Cathedral of St Paul Choir available for a donation.


Harry T. Burleigh Week Events Details
Events are free and open to the public.

Monday, December 2
12:30 PM | 423 State Street 

  • Harry T. Burleigh Day Proclamations presented to Burleigh Legacy Alliance President Johnny Johnson by Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Council Members.
  • Harry T. Burleigh Heritage Display at the Blasco Library Lobby

Wednesday, December 4
11:30 AM — 1 PM | Blasco Library Hirt Auditorium  

  • Erie area secondary music students and teachers view and hear the music of Harry T. Burleigh in selected videos.
  • Video Chat with Patrick Dailey of Tennessee State University highlighting their annual Harry T. Burleigh Festival and collegiate music program.

Thursday, December 5
5:30 — 7:30 PM | Blasco Library Hirt Auditorium 

  • View and hear the music of Harry T. Burleigh in selected videos.
  • Panel Discussion of Harry T. Burleigh’s music with music scholars and educators including Mr. Johnny Johnson, President, Burleigh Legacy Alliance; Aaron Taylor, an East Middle School music teacher; Sharon Downey, St. Paul Cathedral Choir Director; and Dr. Jean E. Snyder, author of the book: Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Guest Musicians from St. Paul Cathedral.

Friday, December 6
5 – 5:30 PM Perry Square at 6th & French Streets 

  • NEW Burleigh Historical Marker Unveiling at 6th & French Streets with remarks by community leaders.
  • Downtown d’Lights, Perry’s Square East: Original Burleigh celebratory performances. 

Friday, December 6
8 and 9 PM | St. Paul Cathedral 134 West 6th Street 

  • Gallery Night - Reprise of Burleigh celebratory performances during open house at St. Paul Cathedral with illuminated stained-glass Burleigh commemorative window on display.

Download Harry T. Burleigh Week Information