Skip to main content

Vaneese Thomas '74

Singer and composer

Vaneese Thomas '74

“The Class of 1974 entered Swarthmore in an environment of racial tension and an adjustment to new policies adopted due to the upheaval on Swarthmore's campus the year before. I belonged to the largest class of African Americans to enter the college up to that time and with us came new challenges for everyone at the college.

“I joyfully joined the college chorus that year under the direction of interim director Michael Korn. The chairman of the Music Department was on sabbatical and returned the following year. I quickly learned that I didn't agree with the chairman's narrow idea that the only music that had validity was Western European music.

“Music from our own country that was not classical was of no importance and we could not expect to perform any other styles or genres in the college chorus. I was upset at this turn of events and I left the college chorus. But out of adversity was born a tradition that's lasted to this day, the Swarthmore College Gospel Choir.” More