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lullaby|ballad|spiritual by Shawn E Okpebholo

lullaby | ballad | spiritual, trio for flute, oboe, and bassoon, was commissioned by Elicio Winds. Housed at Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama), Elicio Winds desired a work that highlighted Alabama's rich musical tradition. In exploring the region's broad artistic heritage, I discovered three Alabama folksongs—a lullaby, a ballad, and a spiritual—on which I base this three-movement suite.


In the first movement, My Mama's Sweet Baby Boy, I musically evoke winsomeness, innocence, and a rocking quality: the first two characteristics reflecting the text, and the last portraying a gentle rocking of a child that comes when singing a lullaby.


The second movement, The Blind Child's Prayer, is a sentimental yet melancholic ballad. Musically, this is an abstract interpretation of the ballad as a musical genre—both folk and pop. The Blind Child's Prayer also reflects the curiosity the child displays in the narrative.


The final movement is a rhapsodic reimagination of the negro spiritual, Scandalizin' My Name. This musical interchange turned argument illustrates the confrontational lyrics.

meet the composer...

Shawn E. Okpebholo is Professor of Music Composition at Wheaton College-Conservatory of Music, and a widely sought-after and award-winning composer, whose music has been characterized as having “enormous grace..., fantasy, and color,” as he comfortably composes in various styles and genres.


A laureate of numerous awards for his artistry, most recently the Academy of Arts and Letters award him The Walter Hinrichsen Award. Other awards include First Place Winner of the 2020 American Prize in Composition (professional/wind band division) and Second Place Winner in the 2017 American Prize in Composition (professional/orchestral division), First Prize Winner in the Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition, Sound of Late Composition Contest, Accent06 International Composition Competition, and the Inaugural Awardee of the Leslie Adams-Robert Owens Composition Award.


His music has been performed on five continents, in over forty states, and nearly every major U.S. city.  He regularly receives commissions from noted soloists, chamber groups, and large ensembles — artists who have performed his works at some of the nation’s most prestigious performance spaces, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He earned his masters and doctoral degrees in composition from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he also studied music theory. For his complete bio and to experience and learn more about his music, visit

Head shot of Shawn Okpebholo
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