Students celebrate MLK with gospel ” and some Springsteen

“From Every Voice’ looks back to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy while creating its own

Katie Wilber

Almost 40 years have passed since the assassination of a man who gave voice to the civil rights struggle. But the issues he fought for ” and died for ” remain. This week, University students will add their own voices to his.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been honored with postage stamps, a national holiday, many a book and many a speech. The University has another idea.

In conjunction with the University’s office for multicultural and academic affairs, the School of Music presents its 25th annual concert in celebration of King.

Reginald Bucker, a professor in the School of Music, began the annual concert 25 years ago, said Jen Jackson, director of public relations for the school of music.

“Bucker was instrumental in establishing the original jazz studies program at the School of Music,” Jackson said. “He wanted to begin a tradition of celebrating King through the performing arts.”

Local musicians Bruce A. Henry, Debbie Duncan and Gwen Matthews are set to perform, as are University groups African Music Ensemble and a cappella group 7 Days.

The group prepared several spirituals for the concert. But it also will perform a song less obvious ” a version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” arranged by former member Erik Axdahl.

“I chose that song because it has themes that are relevant to today like brotherhood ” or lack thereof,” Axdahl said. “It’s a depressing song on the surface, but it has a few lessons attached to it.”

Axdahl didn’t arrange the song specifically for this concert, he said. He composed the song more than a year ago because he liked the melody and the lyrics, but it eventually worked its way into 7 Days’ concert lineup.

Anthony Brown, a founding member of 7 Days, sat on the board that chose the groups that will perform at the concert.

Having performed at the concert a few years ago, 7 Days is one group making a tradition of the annual show. Brown said the group members are excited to be a part of the concert lineup again.

“I believe that a concert like this one is especially important for our generation,” Brown said. “I think people our age really need to remember and understand the significance of (King’s) work.”

The concerts that honor King have been a University staple since 1989, and it’s become a traditional celebration of an inspirational man.

“I think this concert gives more emphasis to why this man is important and how his vision ” and the people he worked with ” got us to a point where we’re more able to live in harmony with each other,” Brown said.

“With this vision, we can work towards bringing closure to the past,” Brown said.