Harry T. Burleigh was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. His Grandfather, Hamilton Waters, was a former slave who taught traditional spirituals and slave songs to Harry. During and after high school, Harry was known as one of Erie’s best singers. He sang in local churches and synagogues as well as at community and civic events. While at the National Conservatory, Burleigh introduced Black American music to Antonin Dvorak who included spirituals in his Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” As a composer of art songs and arranger of spirituals, he played a major role in developing what became uniquely American music while continuing to sing successfully throughout his life.