The SFCM student-led production features performers expressing art in new ways, while paying homage to Black culture and ancestry.
By Mark Taylor
Sometimes a piece of music can evoke pain and sorrow, but in its beauty, break through into an emotional masterpiece beloved for its representation. For student Vuyiswa Sigadi, one of those songs is, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. “I can connect to it through the loss of my own mother, and to convey the harsh reality of Black history in America through this eerie, yet, beautifully composed piece,” she said of the music.
It’s just one song she will be performing during a Black History Month celebration concert by the Black Student Union (BSU) this month. Early performances of the song date back to the late 1800s, but it is still widely covered today. “It can be interpreted in a few ways, it is a Negro spiritual that originally represents the intense depth behind when a child is separated from their family and sold away in times of slavery,” she added. Sigadi is an undergraduate sophomore studying voice at the Conservatory with César Ulloa and is a Nancy Wakeman Scholarship recipient.
Composed of about 20 members, the BSU organized all performers and communicated with all necessary departments to put on BSU Presents: A Celebration of Black History Month. The concert is free and open to the public. For member Sydnee Johnson, it was important to create a celebratory and welcoming concert performance, “A space to give our African American students a recital that isn’t formally based and is informal in a way that they can express themselves in a whole new way, while paying homage to our culture and ancestors,” she said. Johnson is a voice graduate student studying with Catherine Cook. In addition to being a member of the BSU, Johnson is also the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Graduate Assistant to Jason Hainsworth the Associate Dean of the program.
The concert will feature instruments and singing, but also spoken word, and anything students want to perform in dedication to Black History Month, “Listeners should expect a night of beautifully executed music by African-American composers,” Sigadi continued, “This performance is not only a celebration of Black history but is also an opportunity for us as African American students to be represented in a more vulnerable light.”
The performance will also feature a collaboration between Sigadi and Johnson in which they will perform a song important not only to them, but the community at large, Lift Every Voice and Sing. “I chose this because it has a special place in my heart as being the national anthem for my culture and heritage,” Johnson continued, “My grandma taught me these words as a child in a poem, as her grandma did for her as a child. My grandma knew the importance of knowing this anthem and she knew it was her duty to pass it on.”
BSU Presents: A Celebration of Black History Month is in the Barbro Osher Recital Hall at the Bowes Center on February 26th at 7:30 pm. Guests are asked to reserve tickets for this free event.
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