Kmart and Smithsonian Partner to Share African-American Sacred Music Traditions

Kick-off of Mobile Museum Exhibit at the National Museum Of American History on Feb. 15

In honor of Black History, Kmart (NYSE: KM) and the Smithsonian have joined forces to bring the public a traveling mobile museum featuring the Smithsonian exhibition, "Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions 1871-2001." The mobile museum, a 48-foot, double-expandable trailer, will travel to Kmart stores, schools, and other community locations throughout the country on a multi-city tour from mid-February through fall 2001. The exhibition celebrates the rich history and varied traditions of African-American sacred music.

The mobile museum began its tour today at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The kick-off event featured Kmart "Share The Word" spokeswoman, Gospel singer, Grammy-winning recording artist CeCe Winans who will make appearances in selected markets during the tour.

"Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions 1871-2001" is an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). Kmart, as a part of its "Share The Word" program celebrating diversity, has made this mobile museum possible.

In addition, Kmart is making a donation to local nonprofit organizations within each market that the "Wade in the Water" exhibition visits. Each donation will be designated to support a literacy or music education program.

"We are delighted to work with Kmart on this innovative and important project," said the Secretary of the Smithsonian, Lawrence M. Small. "Together we can bring this inspiring exhibition, 'Wade in the Water,' to communities across the country. This is a perfect opportunity for the Smithsonian to reach out to all Americans."

"Kmart believes diversity enriches everyone. By partnering with the Smithsonian on this exhibition, we are celebrating the contributions of African-Americans and all other ethnic groups. We are proud to bring this distinguished exhibition to our customers and the communities we serve," said Chuck Conaway, Kmart Chairman and CEO.

The mobile museum presentation of "Wade in the Water" is adapted from the original Smithsonian exhibition especially for transportation in a truck. It examines how the musical legacy of slavery and the worship practices of black churches contributed to African-American heritage and became a worldwide cultural force.

The exhibition has six thematic sections, including topics such as slave spirituals as a tool of survival and escape, the development of the concert spiritual tradition, the African-American quartet tradition, and Gospel music. "Wade in the Water" also shows the pioneering efforts of African-American composers and performers to carry their musical repertoire to college campuses, working-class neighborhoods, recording studios and world-renowned concert halls.

The mobile museum will feature audio-visual stations where visitors will be able to hear and see the development of African-American spiritual traditions. The exhibition concludes with a look at the continuing vitality of these traditions, as exemplified by the popular, current-day singers featured in the exhibit, who bring Gospel music into the popular music market.

The original presentation of "Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions," was developed by SITES with the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. The original exhibition's curator, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, curator emeritus at the National Museum of American History, is a preeminent historian of African-American cultural history, a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and founder of the internationally acclaimed a cappella quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock. Dr. Reagon served as content adviser for the current project.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) extends the Smithsonian collections, research and exhibitions across the nation and abroad. Since 1952, SITES has organized and circulated exhibitions of all shapes and sizes on the arts, sciences and humanities, bringing the Smithsonian to millions of visitors each year.

Descriptions and itineraries for "Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions 1871-2001" as well as other SITES exhibitions can be found at .

Kmart Corporation is a near-$40 billion company that serves America with more than 2,100 Kmart and Kmart supercenter retail outlets. In addition to serving all 50 states, Kmart operations extend to the Caribbean Islands and Asia Pacific. More information about Kmart and the mobile museum tour is available on the World Wide Web at .

SOURCE: Kmart Corporation

Contact: Susan Dennis of Kmart Corporation, 248-463-1021; Elly Muller,
202-357-3168, ext. 118, Jennifer Schommer, 202-357-3168, ext. 125, both of
Smithsonian; or Michele Edwards of Don Coleman Advertising, 248-223-8953



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