TO commemorate Black History and Reggae Month in February, the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) is slated to embark on a tour dubbed Redemption Songs of the United States.
"We cannot separate who we are from the music we do. The JYC remains committed to amplifying the voice of Jamaican choral music on the world stage — and it is a music that comes from a history of enslaved Africans. Our first show, 14 years ago, was called Ancestor Voices and it celebrated the rich legacy in music by Jamaican and African-American compositions — there is strong connection between the two. We continue this mission today with Redemption Songs," Greg Simms, JYC founder and musical director, told the Jamaica Observer.
The chorale will make its first stop at the Washington National Cathedral on Thursday with a free 30-minute concert. In Washington, DC, the group will also interact in a cultural exchange activity with students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as well as make a stop at the National Museum of African and American History and Culture.
Additionally, the JYC will give a free concert later that evening at the historic Church of the Epiphany.
From Washington, DC, the group will travel to Virginia on February 4 where it will give a performance inside the historic Shiloh Baptist Church under the patronage of Ambassador Pamela E Bridgewater, former US ambassador to Jamaica. Before returning to Jamaica, the group will travel to New York for a concert at the St Augustine's Episcopal Church on February 5.
Simms further noted that all is set for the tour.
"We are ready for the road artistically and logistically. The pre-recital tour was a good test of that. The response has been very encouraging," he said.
The hour-long, pre-tour recital was held at the King's House Ballroom last Sunday. It comprised Noel Dexter's Bright Soul, Suppose We Doh Meet arranged by CS Walters, and Simms. Dr Kathy Brown, another notable Jamaican composer, was also in the mix with her arrangements of Bob Marley's Redemption Song and Wonderful Jamaica.
The choir showed its versatility from the show opener Lift Every Voice and Sing, a composition by African-American Roland Carter. The programme then flowed into Stacey V Gibbs' serene arrangement of the popular hymn Shall We Gather at the River.
The Redemption Songs Tour concludes the JYC's winter concert season, dubbed Christmas Joy, which started at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, Mona campus, in December 2022.
Started in 2008, the JYC has previously performed in the UK and South Africa.
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