Allyson Edge | Staff Writer
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Hampton University Concert Choir in conjunction with the Elizabeth City State University Concert Choir hosted a MLK Jr. Freedom Choral Concert Series Jan. 19 in Ogden Hall.
The angelic voices of each choir filled the room with sounds of hope, faith and freedom. A few of the songs on the set list were, “Hear My Prayer” by Moses Hogan, “All My Trials” by Norman Luboff, “I Want to Die Easy” arranged by Roland M. Carter and “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing” by Ryan Murphy. Given the titles of these pieces, the message of the concert is appropriately executed.
According to first-year Hampton student and biology pre-med major, Brevyn Belfield, the African American hymns and “negro spirituals denote a story about black culture, black history and what African Americans dealt with.”
Despite the hardships and oppression that the African American community faced in the past, members of the community were able to remain rooted in their faith and keep hope alive through song. Particularly, Martin Luther King Jr. continues to be remembered for his key role in the Civil Rights Movement and the sacrifices he made to make a change in society. It is important to be reminded of the lessons presented in these songs because they are still applicable to African Americans today.
When asked their favorite songs that they sung during the concert, Nate Abdul- Haqq, a first-year strategic communications major and member of the HU Concert Choir named “If I Can Help Somebody.”
“It’s a beautiful piece of work and here at Hampton University we have a community where people seek to help others,” said Abdul-Haqq. “As a result, I am accustomed to helping my peers out if I can. That in short is why it is significant to me.”
HU student Jordan Grundy, a sophomore kinesiology pre-Med major and another member of the concert choir said, “My favorite song that I sang tonight was the song called ‘I want to die easy.’
“The significance of the song comes from the title, speaking to how a person would like to be at peace than suffer any longer,” Grundy explained. “This song is also connected to how they would like to be reconnected with Jesus. This song is my favorite for the constant mood shifts throughout the song as well as the soloist who does an outstanding job singing solo.”
At the end of the concert, the final pieces were “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Ronald M. Carter and “We Shall Overcome.” The lights were turned on for these two songs and the audience was asked to stand, which brightened the mood and aligned with the lyrics. Since each of these songs are centered around ideas of hope and happiness, the brightness of the lights reflected the concept of rising above oppression.
While singing “We Shall Overcome,” the two choirs held hands as they sang “we shall walk hand in hand, we shall overcome one day.” The visual representation of unity helped emphasize the many people who worked together to fight for the rights of African Americans, which in turn opened the door for more opportunities in various aspects of society.