The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
By Elissa Weller, VocalEssence
VocalEssence is proud to announce the 2014 performances of WITNESS: Stomp & Sing will feature folksinger and activist Melanie DeMore. The VocalEssence WITNESS Program is an annual celebration of the contributions African Americans have made, and are making, to our shared cultural heritage. The comprehensive school-based program is just one element in a wide-ranging initiative that also includes concerts, commissions and recordings.
Audiences for WITNESS: Stomp & Sing will feel the rhythmic spirit of the Gullah as the VocalEssence Chorus and vocal activist Melanie DeMore help students and audiences break down walls and create connections through these highly participatory workshops and concerts. Unique among other groups of enslaved Africans, the Gullah lived in isolation on the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina, retaining much of their pure African traditions. Communal singing and dance were seen as vital to survival, and rhythm was deep in their souls. Through powerful spirituals performed in the Gullah tradition, stick pounding, hand clapping and foot stomping, Melanie will challenge all of us to connect with our neighbor and the music within us.
"When [Melanie] turns her direct gaze to the audience, it feels like she was born to bring a powerful message through her songs. The combination of her gentle spirit and her deep resounding voice stopped me in my tracks." – Barbara Price, Music Producer
For more information about WITNESS, visit www.vocalessence.org/witness.