Keveli Music Band Publication

Songs of Paradise


Concert Band


Kevin M. Walczyk

Grade 3-4   |   Duration: 8'45"
Songs of Paradise Cover

Songs of Paradise is a setting of hymns by African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933). These five hymns - from Tindley's complete compilation of 46 hymns, were published in a collection entitled New Songs of Paradise (1941).

Tindley was born in Berlin, Maryland and raised by his father after his mother died when Albert was only two years old. Having to be "hired out" in order to help earn a living, young Tindley taught himself to read and write. During his formative years Tindley moved to Philadelphia where he would spend the rest of his life forging a most influential career as a pastor, orator, social activist and composer. Given the sobriquet "father of African American Hymnody", Tindley's humble beginnings and lack of formal training, led to a musical style of hymnody distinguished from those of his Anglo-American counterparts by addressing the worldly sorrows, blessings and joys that pertained specifically to African-Americans, and incorporated elements of improvisation and early vestiges of gospel music, including summary refrains following each stanza.

The five concert band settings of Songs of Paradise introduce new harmonies, rhythms, counterpoint and structural designs to the hymns. The melodies and contextual implications of the lyrics, however, remain intact. Songs of Paradise was commissioned by Dr. Paul W. Popiel, Director of Bands at the University of Kansas, and the Kansas Music Educators Association Northeast District Honor Band.

Charles Tindley

Charles Albert Tindley was one of the earliest and most influential writers of gospel music. His two most popular hymns are I’ll Overcome Someday (popularly known as We Shall Overcome), which became the anthem for the civil rights movement, and Stand By Me, which became a national hit when Ben E. King and the Drifters recorded their version of the song in the early 1960’s.

Selected as a finalist and Honorable Mention recipient for both the 2011 and 2013 CBDNA Young Band Composition Contest, and awarded the Big East Conference Band Directors Association 2012 composition competition prize, Songs of Paradise received its official premiere in early December 2011 at the Northeast Kansas Music Educators Association conference at Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, KS by the commissioning party – the Kansas Music Educators Association Northeast District Honor Band, under the direction of Dr. Paul W. Popiel. The work has received multiple performances throughout the United States and has been featured repertoire for numerous honor bands, conventions and symposia. Songs of Paradise can be found on multiple state recommended and/or required literature lists. Performances are usually graded on number of movements performed: any three (3) movements is grade 3, while performing all five (5) movements is grade 4. Please check with your state bandmaster’s organization for clarification.

Songs of Paradise is available on volume 10 of Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, which includes a full analysis and editorial of the work, plus a studio recording (GIA CD 960) by the North Texas Wind Symphony, conducted by Eugene Migliaro Corporon.


Songs of Paradise is a grade 3-4 work. It is suitable for most advanced middle school bands, high school concert bands, and small college bands. The work is easy and suitable for college-level bands. The Texas UIL Prescribed List gives Songs of Paradise a rating of grade 3 when up to three movements are performed and a rating of grade 4 when all five movements are performed.

flutes 1-2
clarinets 1-3
bass clarinet
alto saxophones 1-2
tenor saxophone
baritone saxophone
horns 1-2
trumpets 1-3
trombones 1-2
euphonium – B.C. & T.C.
timpani4 drums
percussion 1snare drum, chimes, and suspended cymbal
percussion 2bass drum, suspended triangle, sleigh bells, and tam-tam
percussion 3crash cymbals and suspended cymbal
percussion 4xylophone and glockenspiel
percussion 1marimba
percussion 6vibraphone
string bass