MSU College of Music Pays Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jan. 19 free concerts feature women in jazz, launch MSU’s yearlong initiative ‘Project 60/50

MSU College of Music will take part in the campus-wide celebration commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with two free concerts, “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest.” The concerts will be held on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, at Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre. 

The two performances, slated for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., are part of MSU’s campus-wide campaign, “Struggle for Justice – Past, Present, and Future.” The theme of the concerts is ”Women in Jazz,” highlighting Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Holiday, and Abbey Lincoln, all famous American gospel and jazz singers.

The intent of the university’s yearlong initiative, “Project 60/50,” is to discuss and commemorate two watershed events that occurred in 20th century American history – the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, and the 50th anniversary of the passage and signing into law of the Civil Rights Act.

In addition to MSU’S Jazz Orchestras, directed by Rodney T. Whitaker, other performers include the MSU Children’s Choir and the Earl Nelson Singers, as well as vocalists Twyla Birdsong, Ramona Collins, Rockelle Fortin, Jasmine Hamilton-Wray, Kimmie Horne, and Mardra Thomas.

“This concert gives us an opportunity to celebrate and further promote how far we have come in regards to equality and justice,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of the jazz studies program at MSU. “As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential leaders in U.S. history, we hope to inspire the community to step up and further educate themselves about what’s happening in our community, our country, and globally. Despite our tremendous progress, we still have much to do.”

University administrators Jeff Wray, associate professor of film studies and creative studies; Paulette Granberry Russell, senior advisor to the president for diversity and the director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives; and Pamela Bellamy, director of the MSU Pre-College Programs will be speaking during both performances.

The events are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets are required.

More about the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration.

More about Project 60/50

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