Project 60/50 and CMS Detroit
New Horizons Band and Detroit School of Arts choir focus on civil rights, freedom from slavery.
As part of Project 60/50, MSU’s yearlong conversation about civil and human rights, the MSU-Detroit New Horizons Band, a program of the MSU Community Music School-Detroit for adults learning to play a band instrument for the first time, collaborated with Detroit School of Arts Concert Choir in a May 7 presentation.
The collaboration, “Yearning to be Free – A Call to Humanity,” featured spoken words and music from the struggle for civil rights and freedom from slavery to the present day. Quotes and excerpts of speeches by Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Harriet Taubman, and many other freedom fighters and civil rights activists through the ages were presented. These included Lincoln’s thoughts on democracy and sections from King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
The spoken word was interspersed with performances by the band and choir. The award-winning choir, under the direction of Cheryl Valentine, performed the spirituals “Rockin’ Jerusalem” and “Somebody Talkin’ Bout Jesus,” and the national anthem of South Africa “Nkosi Sikelel’ I Afrika” (Lord Bless Africa). The New Horizons Band, led by MSU alumnus Edward Quick, ’74, performed Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and the anthem of the civil rights movement “We Shall Overcome.” The band and choir also performed selections together, including a powerful and emotional performance of the national hymn of the United States, “God of Our Fathers.”
The narration was performed by Mayowa Lisa Reynolds, dean of outreach and recruitment at the Detroit School Arts.