In the midst of a year that has witnessed dramatic and inspiring social engagement from America’s youth, the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, under the artistic direction of Michele Fowlin, performs “Stay Woke, Still Woke,” a youth-driven musical exploration of social consciousness, on June 2, 2018 at 4pm at Lisner Auditorium.
The official celebration of the choir’s 25th birthday, “Stay Woke, Still Woke” looks at issues of social awareness and action through repertoire spanning multiple eras, cultures, and genres. The members of the choir themselves have been integral to every facet of the program’s design—from choreography to costumes to the title of the concert.
The program is divided into two halves. The first, “Stay Woke,” honors faith’s sustaining force, from the struggles of slavery to the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and ’60s, featuring African American spirituals and traditional songs from South Africa. Notably, this half of the program features a step routine choreographed by Mya Pierce, a current member of Children of the Gospel. The second half, “Still Woke,” is a call to action against injustice through motivational contemporary gospel music by Hezekiah Walker, Richard Smallwood, and others, along with inspiring Broadway ballads such as “I Know Where I’ve Been” from Hairspray and “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime.
These diverse musical threads are woven together through a narrative written by Tony Award–winning lyricist Murray Horwitz and delivered by members of the choir. Both current and past members of COTG will be featured soloists; returning alumni include Annisse Murillo and C. Anthony Bryant, both of whom are now successful professional musicians. The program also includes a guest appearance from a young scholar from Blacks in Wax, a local organization started by former D.C. First Lady Cora Masters Barry, devoted to engaging young people with African American history. The Blacks in Wax character of Colin Kaepernick, a major figure in the current social justice movement, will open the second half of the concert.
“The overall concept of this program was to ensure that the voices of the children would be heard and shared, through song, dance and visual media, concerning their feelings and perceptions of how the world is affecting them,” said Michele Fowlin, Artistic Director of Children of the Gospel. “Stay Woke, Still Woke shares their understanding of where we were, are and how we’ll get to the next level as a community and nation. The selections were chosen by the students and myself through many conversations over the season. Children of the Gospel will feature songs from various genres, special guest alumni soloists, and a ‘throwback’ medley celebrating the 25th birthday of the choir.”
Immediately following the performance, Washington Performing Arts and their Junior Board invite the audience to attend a “25th Birthday Party” for the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel on the GWU Mid-Campus Quad, directly behind Lisner Auditorium.
Who: Washington Performing Arts’ Children of the Gospel Choir performance takes place
Saturday, June 2, 2018 @ 4 p.m. The GW Lisner Auditorium is located at 730 21st Street NW, Washington DC 20052.
Tickets: $20-$40; visit WashingtonPerformingArts.org for more details.
$10 tickets for this performance are available through the Gateway Student Ticket Program. Visit http://www.washingtonperformingarts.org/seasontickets/studenttickets/index.aspx to learn more.