Four choirs became one to celebrate unity at the fourth annual benefit concert on Saturday, Jan. 26.
The concert was held by the Missouri United Methodist Church in support of The Black & Brown Opportunity Leadership and Development Academy and to honor the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. The concert was put on by the Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri and was composed of several local community choirs representing a variety of faith organizations.
The event started with choir members reciting various quotes by King. Then CAAM Artistic Director Emily Edgington Andrews addressed the concertgoers.
“By being an audience member you are a part of a great dialogue for unity,” Andrews said. “We can promote positive conditions through our shared love of music and faith to spread unity through our community.”
Andrews then conducted Columbia Chorale in the first set of the night. Composed of various professionals and amateurs from across Mid-Missouri, the chorale performed gospel songs such as “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down” and “Hear My Prayer”.
The second choir to perform was the Columbia Kid’s Gospel Choir conducted by Jordan Walker.
The choir, in its second year of existence and, according to Andrews, quickly gaining members, performed “There Has to Be a Song” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.
The Legion of Black Collegians Gospel Choir, a choir composed of MU students, performed pieces by Kirk Franklin and Lamar Campbell.
In between sets BOLD Vice President Chrystal Sadler talked about her organization.
“The objectives of BOLD are to provide academic support, build self-esteem and self worth, increase exposure to fine art… and connect youth to the community at large,” Sadler said. “There is a saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ We are so grateful for this collaboration, and you are our village.”
For some in the audience, this was the first time they had heard of BOLD. Audience member Jaquay Taylor believes BOLD can only do good for the city of Columbia.
“I actually had not heard of BOLD before this event,” Taylor said. “I think their work is a wonderful benefit to the community.”
Choir Director LaMont Walker then honored Andrews for recently receiving a Progress in the Arts Award from the Columbia Missourian.
Walker then took things in a more personal direction by proposing to his girlfriend, Whittley Yasmine and invited all of those in the audience to his wedding.
The Columbia Community Gospel Choir, composed of members of various faith communities, performed the next set. The set was unique in that they had learned their music by ear and not by reading sheet music. They performed “Ride on King Jesus” and “I Know What Prayer Can Do,” among others.
For the final set, the choirs combined, culminating in “This is the Sound of Victory,” an uptempo gospel tune that had many people clapping and dancing along with the music.
Edited by Janae McKenzie | firstname.lastname@example.org