Annual concert in honor of MLK sought to carry on his lessons
Heads were nodding, hands were clapping, arms were raised and shouts roared as College of Music Dean James Forger and jazz professor Rodney Whitaker approached the microphone to address contemporary issues in light of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s memory.
For the past 15 years, the MSU College of Music has hosted a concert for students and community alike in honor of King.
On Sunday in the Fairchild Theatre, the “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest Concert” included highly acclaimed a cappella group Take 6.
The most awarded vocal group in history, Take 6 has been around since 1980. They attribute their success to faith, friendship, respect and love of music.
These are all qualities Forger said he hoped to inspire in the audience.
Forger said the Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert began as a way to incorporate music more fully into the social fabric of the university.
“One of the best ways to do that was to use it as a vehicle to highlight and to celebrate the accomplishments, the struggles and the issues raised by the great Martin Luther King,” Forger said.
He said it is important for the university to continue doing the concert year after year because the issues that King raised are ever present. Forger said it is a small step in trying to correct a society that is still full of imperfections and troubles.
“We live in a world and in a country that is deeply divided on many issues, and it’s always a positive thing to address those issues and to think about them and try to do better in each successive year,” Forger said.
He said while the main purpose of the concert is to honor and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., it also presents the opportunity for individual reflection on ways to make this a better life, a better university, a better country and a better world.
“I think there is a great and powerful connection between jazz music and some of the struggles people have suffered over the years,” Forger said.
Forger said he is proud to see the students and faculty raise these issues in such an effective and artistic way.
“I’m very proud of my colleagues and the students who take an active role in working with the community together to try and develop some unity, and to try to in an artistic and powerful way address some important issues which unfortunately still exist,” Forger said.
Biochemistry and molecular biology senior Betsy Mappilaparampil said the concert brought people together to honor a truly great man who left an amazing legacy.
“Whenever there is a gathering of people who share the same core beliefs, those people become united in a unique way,” Mappilaparampil said.
She said the concert got her thinking about the civil rights issues that surfaced this year, and how change needs to arrive swiftly in the nation.
“To me, honoring Martin Luther King means to live life in the legacy that he left — that is, to treat every person humanely, no matter what race, gender or sexuality,” Mappilaparampil said.