We’re all pretty Zoomed out these days, but consider saving Sunday, January 17 at 4 p.m. for the Boston Children’s Chorus’ 18th annual tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s concert is “On the Water” and is not be be missed. Once dubbed the “Ambassadors of Harmony,” the Boston Children’s Chorus’ mission is needed now more than ever as we all come to grips with the long-overdue challenge of achieving racial harmony and social justice. These special MLK concerts are always rousing performances, feel-good occasions that stir the spirit and renew one’s awareness and commitments to get out of our bubbles and work harder to realize the promises of democracy.
The chorus was the brainchild of longtime civic activist Hubie Jones, who for 60 years has conceived and implemented initiatives on behalf of under-served children and youth in Boston. Initiating or reorganizing dozens of organizations and developing talent among young people of color, Hubie has helped shape the social justice landscape in this city and beyond.
Back in October of 2002, he was moved at the dedication of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge when he saw people of every race, religion, age, national origin, way of life, come together in tribute to a man who had dedicated his short life to civil rights and fighting injustice. Hubie (full disclosure: my Five on Five program colleague and dear friend) wanted to go further. He wanted to use music to bring children from different backgrounds together to further the cause of strengthening the social fabric. The very next year, the Boston Children’s Chorus was born, learning much from more established children’s choruses in New York and Chicago.
Starting with just 20 children from around Boston and its suburbs, the BCC now includes more than 400 singers in different concert groupings and performs some 50 concerts a year. Their venues have ranged from Boston Symphony Hall to the Sydney, Australia Opera House. Three hundred Greater Boston children will be heard next Sunday and, as with the rest of life these days, will be heard digitally. Singing from their own homes, they will be joined by Massachusetts-born opera star Andrea Baker. Their songs will be woven together by spoken word and historical context, with other videos filmed at sites across the globe and hosted in BCC’s South Boston Headquarters.
Four hundred one years ago, the first slave-bearing ship, the White Lion, arrived in North America, and thus began centuries of injustice borne by Black Americans, the significant residue of that shameful history enduring today. The BCC concert draws on a rich artistic history and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr with music that draws us all into the African-American experience. To register, click here. I guarantee it will touch your soul.