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Colored Troops’ Ensemble doled out a pitch perfect sample from their “Songs of the Contraband” collection before the Hampton City Council last week.

The six member modern day a cappella group has made appearances at Fort Monroe, Gloucester and even as far as Charlottesville since its creation a year ago, by member Hugh Harrell III.

Chauncey Brown, a native Hamptonian and historian in his 70s, and one of the members wanted to share some little known local black history of the hundreds of African American soldiers who served during the Civil War. Part of the history includes songs the soldiers wrote and sang that helped them survive, he said.

“Music has been a part of the African American experience all of the time and it made the work go better for us,” Brown said. “We thought it (was) important to create this group to keep their music alive.”

Many of the men who became soldiers were among thousands of runaway slaves seeking refuge and freedom at Fort Monroe. Some landed in the Grand Contraband Camp, a site now located in present day downtown Hampton, near Armistead,
timberland sandles Colored Troops' Ensemble pays tribute to Hampton soldiers
north of Queen and King streets. Army brought them in as soldiers and they volunteered in the infantry and cavalry, Brown said.

More than 700 of these soldiers are buried locally in a national cemetery on the Hampton University campus, he said.

“These heroes lie quietly in their graves mostly unspoken of with their bravery unheralded. They fought bravely and not only in the physical sense. They were driven by the spiritual urge to defeat the evil of slavery,” Brown said. “The spiritual urge manifested in a whole genre of songs, many that were written by the contraband, at Fort Monroe and at theContraband Camp.”

The vocal ensemble donned authentic period uniforms, costumes donated from the National Parks Service, after the group performed in Fort Monroe. Members range in age from their early 30s through 70s and hail from Hampton’s Phenix neighborhoods, Brown said.

Civil Rights wax figures come aliveAfrican American heroes from the Civil Rights era to modern day and pop culture icons will assume a more youthful interpretation Saturday at the Hampton History Museum. Saturday at the Hampton History Museum. The event is free for museum members,
timberland sandles Colored Troops' Ensemble pays tribute to Hampton soldiers
plus a special reduced admission fee of $2.00 for non members to tour the galleries.