Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dr. Eric Conway: Morgan State University Choir performs in Jacksonville, Florida and visits James Weldon Johnson Exhibit! [YouTube Videos of Museum & Concert]

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

On Friday, March 24, the MSU choir continued their Spring tour by traveling to Jacksonville, FL.  Whenever the Morgan choir travels, I try to include an educational component if at all possible.  TC Newman, Morgan alumnus and president of the Jacksonville chapter of the alumni chapter, told me that we absolutely could not visit Jacksonville without seeing the James Weldon Johnson Exhibit.   When we arrived in Jacksonville, we went directly to the Ritz Theatre.  This theatre is located in the La Villa district of Jacksonville, historically known as “the mecca for African American culture and heritage”  in Florida.  Some referred to this district in the early part of the twentieth-century as "the Harlem of the South" - thus the reason for the location of this exhibit.  The local chapter paid the ticket price of admission to the exhibit for the entire choir.

Although most students do not anticipate going to museums, the Morgan choir anxiously awaited this exhibit.  If you have every attended a Morgan choir concert, you know that we typically open our concerts with the James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson’s  “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  This Ritz Theatre exhibit generally features the achievements of notable African Americans from Florida, much like our Reginald Lewis Museum in Baltimore highlights the achievements of African-Americans from Baltimore; however, not as well funded.  The best part of the tour was a robotic presentation featuring James and J. Rosamond speaking about their life and music.  We learned much about James Weldon Johnson the activist, lawyer, diplomat, poet, and of course a songwriter.  Although not a very good bootleg video, pls. see below a link to a video of the twelve-minute robotic presentation which is quite life-like and informative!

Our Jacksonville concert was hosted by one of the largest churches in Jacksonville, Hope Chapel Ministries church where another Morgan Alumnus, Garry Merritt was an associate pastor.    We had the largest audience of the tour with incredible sound in the sanctuary. Please see YouTube links to our performance below with photos from the day.


Link to Robotic Video at Ritz Theatre:

Link to 1st Half of Jacksonville Concert:

Link to 2nd Half of Jacksonville Concert:

Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University
1700 East Cold Spring Lane
Carl Murphy Fine Arts Center, Room 329C
Baltimore, MD 21251

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