Saturday, September 7, 2019

Eric Conway: Morgan Choir Sings for United States Conference on Aids!

Dr. Eric Conway writes on September 6, 2019:

The Morgan State University Choir performed today at the United States Conference on Aids (USCA) at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC.  This was an enormous event with over two thousand persons in attendance. We sang for the plenary session, where every attendee was in the room.  The keynote speaker was Iyanla Vanzant!

We were excited to attend, to understand where we are on the disease of AIDS and HIV in America.  We do not hear very much about the disease anymore, much because medical science has advanced to the point where an HIV diagnosis does not mean the end of life as you know it.   We all know many persons who have contracted the disease, who are thriving!

The choir sang many songs in the session.  The producers of the conference wanted to give a history of the disease, decade by decade, yes the disease is forty years old!  They wanted the choir to sing music they would give a sense of the sentiment of each decade.  Each song was to be emotionally and tonally chosen to represent the trajectory of the fight in that decade.
80’s - sadness, melancholy
They asked us to sing: “Will I” from RENT
90’s - struggle, perhaps anger, this is the decade where the fight is front and center - needed to start a global conversation
They asked us to sing: “Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt and Pepa
2000’s - hope comes to our communities.  We may not see the end, but there is some light.
They asked us to sing: “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” as sung by Whitney Houston
2010’s - the motivation to move forward, the emotion as we push toward the end of the epidemic.
They asked us to sing: “I Made It”  as sung by Fantasia

The finale consisted of two choirs on stage - The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington who sang Andra Day’s “Rise Up”  and Morgan who sang “We’re All In the Same Boat Together,” with a grand finale with both choirs singing: “This is Me”  from the Greatest Showman.  

This was a riveting event.  See some pictures of the conference and performance.  I managed to try to capture the videos of the Morgan students singing the music between the decades in a posted YouTube Video below. The power of this video is not in the music, but the personal statements by persons who have HIV or individuals who are leading the fight against HIV. Also see a link to a soundfile of the choir’s two final selections.

At the end of the session, there was not a dry eye in the house!  The ending as envisioned left everyone encouraged that we are indeed going to find a cure! 


Morgan Choir sings at 2019 US Conference on AIDS!

Soundfile of Morgan’s Finale Performance:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University

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