To pay respect to the long list of powerful black role models during Black History Month, University Singers, Chamber Choir, and Voices of Gold – including a handful of alumni and music majors – will be performing a variety of spiritual and gospel music on Thursday, Feb. 29 (aka Leap Day) at 7 p.m. in the Mater Dei Chapel.

Mount St. Joseph News

The event has free admission so grab your family and friends and get there early to get a good seat!

There will be no t-shirts sold at this concert because, as Director of Choral Activities Kelsey DeMange said, “There is a fine line between selling a culture and appreciating a culture” and selling t-shirts at this event is not how we want to honor Black History Month. This concert is not simply a theme or for monetary purposes. The performers are striving to expand the minds of the audience to the different cultures of music and demonstrate how to appropriately honor the variety of styles and the profound history that the musical pieces encapsulate.

DeMange thoughtfully explained that she chose to make this concert about songs of freedom because she wanted to capture the purpose and time of reflection imbedded in Black History Month. After a lot of research on gospel music and spiritual music, and seeing the choral program grow into an ensemble ready to take on the responsibility of singing soulful music, DeMange introduced the group to a whole different genre of powerful music. The group will be performing pieces by well-known composers such as Robert Ray and Nina Simone.

One piece that DeMange is particularly excited about is “He Never Failed Me Yet” by Ray. Not only is this a Westside favorite, but it is “full gospel” music that involves lots of improvisation, collaboration, and a call/response style that is popular in churches with a large population of Black attendees. Gospel music is “community-based and uplifting,” according to Sarah “Queenie” Barton, a sophomore at the Mount.

Barton is a member of Voices of Gold, but due to schedule conflicts, she will only be performing as a guest soloist at the Songs of Freedom concert. She is excited about singing gospel music because most of the spiritual songs she heard in previous schools were popular gospel songs that were whitewashed.

“It’s cool to see directors reaching to songs from different cultures,” Barton remarked in appreciation for the new genre of music.

With a guest soloist and beloved gospel and spiritual music by highly respected composers, this concert will be a night to remember. We look forward to seeing you there on in the Mater Dei Chapel!