By Katie Maze
One Voice Choir performed for a full house Oct. 13 in Hughes Recital Hall. The performance provided the audience with diverse entertainment from the African culture and the opportunity to experience it firsthand.
“I thought it was lovely,” said freshman pre-med biology major Kendrell Jackson. “I’m a big music person, so I love all the harmonies and drums. I like that I was able to get to see something new and different.”
Accompanied by professor of performing and visual arts Dr. Stephen Crawford, the choir performed traditional songs and chants from various countries in Africa. Use of authentic instruments added to the ambiance inside the tiny theater.
Singers stood semi-circle around Crawford as he played the kpanlogo drum, originally used by people in Ghana to communicate over long distances.
He delivered a solo on the marimba, a wooden instrument prevalent in Africa.
All music was created by African percussion instruments, most of which belong to Crawford’s personal collection.
Both he and conductor Matt Crosby dressed in formal African robes called dashiki, normally worn by men on special occasions in Nigeria.
“It was difficult to play one beat while singing along with another, but we wanted to use instruments and things that were authentic,” Crosby said.
He encouraged audience members to stand and sing along with the choir, an element unique to this particular African installation. He said he wanted to take the listeners out of their comfort zone so that they could truly experience the music.
“I didn’t want the audience to just watch a formal concert. This is something that really has to be experienced outside the box in order to truly embrace the spirit of African music,” Crosby said.
Freshman music education major Amber Como, who attended the performance as a lab requirement, said, “I like the originality and the fact that it incorporated the audience with the performance. That was my favorite part. This definitely didn’t feel like homework.”
Crosby said he was inspired to celebrate African culture because of a few weeks he spent in Nigeria in 2005 teaching at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary.
He and Crawford joined forces last spring and began research on Africa’s music and culture.
They worked together to combine the nature of freedom with modern Western elements to pay homage to the music’s colorful culture.
“The rhythm and freedom they have really inspired me …. The spirit of the Nigerians is wonderful, and I really wanted to capture that. We’ve never done African music before, so it was time we experimented with it.” Crosby explained the impact studying African music has had on the members of One Voice.
“A lot of them are going to be music educators, and they need to have this experience because they will probably be doing multi-cultural music with their students. This is a great platform for them to base their cultural education on.”
Crosby expressed his gratitude for all of the people who showed up and stood through the performance.He was excited because so many people could experience the music.
He hopes the audience left with a greater understanding and appreciation for other cultures. Crosby admitted he was pleased with the outcome of this rare performance.
He said, “I’m thankful for God’s creativity. He has gifted us with diversity of cultures that create the colors of the earth. This music reminds us of that.”