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Rosephanye Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of solo vocal and choral music. Dr. Powell’s works have been conducted and premiered by nationally and internationally renowned conductors and have been premiered at distinguished halls around the country, including Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and Spivey Hall, to name a few.

Dr. Powell is commissioned yearly to compose for university choruses, professional, community and church choirs, as well as secondary school choruses. Her work has been auctioned by Chorus America and her compositions are in great demand at choral festivals around the country, frequently appearing on the regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as Honor Choir festivals. Dr. Powell’s compositions include sacred and secular works for mixed chorus, women’s chorus, men’s chorus, and children’s voices.

Dr. Powell serves as Professor of Voice at Auburn University. She holds degrees from The Florida State University, Westminster Choir College, and Alabama State University. Dr. Powell served on the faculties of Philander Smith College (AR) and Georgia Southern University prior to her arrival at Auburn University in 2001. An accomplished singer and voice professor, Dr. Powell’s research focuses on the art of the African-American spiritual and voice care concerns for voice professionals (specifically, music educators, choral directors, and choral singers). She travels the country and internationally presenting lectures, song demonstrations, and serving as a workshop clinician, conductor, and adjudicator for solo vocal competitions/auditions, honor choirs, choral workshops and festivals. 


I Want to Die While You Love Me
Premiered at the 2021-2022 concert, Music They Wrote


I want to die while you love me,
While yet you hold me fair,
While laughter lies upon my lips
And lights are in my hair.

I want to die while you love me,
And bear to that still bed,
Your kisses turbulent, unspent
To warm me when I’m dead.

And never, never see the glory of this day grow dim or cease to be.

I want to die while you love me
Oh, who would care to live
Till love has nothing more to ask
And nothing more to give?

I want to die while you love me
And never, never see
The glory of this perfect day
Grow dim or cease to be!

Rosephanye Powell has taken a passionate poem of love by Georgia African-American poet Douglas Johnson and given us notes that truly sing, celebrating the moment when love is at its fullest. This piece was commissioned by the ACDA Women's Choir Commission Consortium, which includes VOX Femina.

Words from Rosephayne Powell:

"I was immediately drawn to this poem when I first read it. Georgia Douglass Johnson describes a day in which she and her beloved experience the height of passion; one day spent alone in which each finds pleasure in the other and the fire of love is full flame. It is a day that Johnson hopes will never end and wishes to carry to her death: “and bear to that still bed, your kisses, turbulent (passionate), unspent, to warm me when I’m dead.” The poet longs to die in the bliss of this moment, such that she “never sees the glory of this perfect day grow dim or cease to be.” One might ask “Why should one desire death in the midst of such joy?” The poet answers: “Oh, who would care to live til love has nothing more to ask and nothing more to give, I want to die while you love me.” The reality is that love may wane; that the passion experienced today may die in time. Therefore, Johnson’s ultimate desire is to “die while you love me”. As a composer, I found Johnson’s lyrical and poignant poetry to be most inspiring for musical development. Her ability to share such depth of passion succinctly took my breath away. At times, because of the depth to which she had touched my heart, I wondered if I could adequately share with others musically what Johnson had shared with me. And, I am humbled to be a vehicle through which Ms. Johnson’s poetry may touch the hearts of many others."

I Want to Die While You Love Me

Still I Rise
Premiered at the 2003-2004 concert, Music in my Mother's House


Though I have been wounded;

aching heart, full of pain.

Just like a budding rose, 

My bloom is nourished by rain. 

Haven't time to wonder why, though fearful I strive.

My prayer and faith uphold me 'til my courage arrives. 

Still I rise, still I rise

Still I rise, as an eagle soaring above every fear.

With each day I succeed

I grow strong and believe that it's all within my reach.

I'm reaching for the skies,

Bolstered by courage.

Yes, still I rise.

Yes, it's all within my reach;

I'm reaching for the skies,

Yes still I rise, still I rise.

Gentle as a woman,

Tender sweet are my sighs.

Strength is in my tears and healing

Rains in my cries.

Plunging depths of anguish, I determine to strive.

My prayer and faith uphold me 'til my courage arrives. 

Though you see me slump with heartache;

Heart so heavy that it breaks

Be not deceived I fly on birds' wings,

Rising sun, its healing rays.

Look at me, you see a woman'

Gentle as a butterfly. 

But don't you think, not for one moment,

That I'm not strong because I cry.

I'm reaching for the skies

Higher and higher, yes

Still I rise. 

Yes, it's all within my reach;

I'm reaching for the skies

Yes, still I rise

Still I rise

Commissioned by VOX Femina, Still I Rise was inspired by laureate Maya Angelou's poem. It is a women’s anthem, saluting the strength of women to persevere through life’s difficulties– low self-esteem, physical and emotional abuse, rape, incest, prejudice, abandonment, and such like. Though a woman’s life or past may be filled with tears and heartaches, with each day that she finds herself still living, she finds that she has grown stronger and risen a little higher because her circumstances have not overcome her. Thus, every new day can be one of hope and joy because regardless of the past, today, “still I rise”!

Still I Rise
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