Preserving and persevering. That’s the theme of this year’s Black History Month celebration with the Chicago Children’s Choir.
“One of the most incomparable and underappreciated contributions to American music is that African sound,” said Lonnie Norwood, director of African Diasporic Music and Studies at the Chicago Children’s Choir. “So this show is a peek into our bigger educational curriculum we’ve developed for our students. All of these things that seem antiquated and outdated still show up in gospel and hip-hop and jazz and spoken word even. Because we provided the rhythm and the groove for all of those things.”
This musical journey through Black history explores how African traditions not only influence music genres today, but how they have helped the Black community celebrate and maintain its traditions.
“And also how people have been able to persevere in the face of racial injustice in our country and in our community” said choir member Coda Lewis. “It’s definitely a relevant topic considering the reality of our society today. How we are still able to be here and to celebrate each other and not only our past history, but also our present history today.”
The concert features collaborations with Chicago artists like Peter CottonTale and Lisa Fischer and even Ranky Tanky, who will teach the choir about ring shout, a musical ritual that originated during slavery.
“They’re very, very instrumental culture preservers of the Gullah tradition, so they gave a workshop and gave more insight on the ring shout and what it signifies,” Norwood said.
While it’s an opportunity to educate the Black community on parts of its history not often acknowledged, Norwood says this is an important history lesson for everyone.
“All of our kids need to know this. This is not just Black History, it is American history, it’s bigger than American history — it’s world history. And we all need to know these things,” he said.
“Preserving and Persevering” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday. Visit the website of the Chicago Children’s Choir for more information.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.