Culture
JAM | Jan 30, 2023

Jamaica Youth Chorale embarks on Redemption Songs tour in the US in celebration of Black History and Reggae Month

/ Our Today

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Jamaica Youth Chorale Touring Contingent – Redemption Songs

Internationally acclaimed choir, the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) will embark on its ‘Redemption Songs’  tour during the first week of February. The tour will showcase chorale repertoire by Jamaican and African American composers appropriate for the commemoration and celebration of Black History & Reggae Month.

Their tour performances will sound off at the English Gothic-style Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC. It is among several historic venues in the United States slated to be filled with the incomparable sounds of the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) in the first week of February. 

Ahead of their performances in the US, The chorale treated their funding partners and other invited guests to a pre-tour recital in the Ballroom of King’s House on Sunday (January 29) afternoon.

Jamaica Youth Chorale in Performance at King’s House on January 29, 2023.

Founder and Musical Director of the JYC, Greg Simms, in his opening remarks thanked the partners in attendance for their support, which has made the trip possible. He noted that fine-tuning was still being done to ensure the group effectively represents the country, even amidst the winter temperatures.

A TASTE OF REDEMPTION SONGS IN PRE-TOUR RECITAL AT KING’S HOUSE

The pre-tour recital, which got underway at 4pm on Sunday, was just under an hour long and included Noel Dexter’s ‘Bright Soul’, ‘Suppose We Doh Meet’ arranged by C.S. Walters, and Greg Simms’ spin on the popular folk tune, ‘Evening Time’. Dr. Kathy Brown, another notable Jamaican composer, was also in the mix with her arrangements of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ and ‘Wonderful Jamaica’.

“We would have used these past few weeks since our Christmas Joy production to really get the rep together and we are excited to go and present these top-class compositions from our Jamaicans as well as put our own unique interpretations on those arrangements done by our African American counterparts,” Mr. Simms said.

Jamaica Youth Chorale in performance at the Redemption Songs Pre-Tour Recital at Kings House on January 29, 2023.

The JYC showed their versatility from the show opener, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ a composition by African American Roland Carter. The programme then flowed into Stacey V. Gibbs’ serene arrangement of the popular hymn ‘Shall We Gather at the River’.

The musical director said the group aims to use the experience to exchange and network with other choirs, composers and creative professionals as well as engage with the Jamaican Diaspora.

Funding for JYC’s winter season has come from CHASE Fund’s Entertainment Industry Support Initiative (CEISI) 2022 and the VM Group.

CHASE’s Public Relations and Administrative Manager, Hilary Coulton, who was among the invited guests at the King’s House recital, commended the group on the execution of the programme and offered the agency’s blessing for the tour across the United States.

Jamaica Youth Chorale with the Public Relations and Administrative Manager at CHASE, Hilary Coulton.

“Good luck on your trip,” she said, while cautioning the members to make adequate preparations for the cold weather.

Chief of Staff of the VM Group, Natasha Reid; Assistant Vice President for Group Corporate Affairs and Communications, Clover Moore; and Deputy CEO for VM Property Services, Allison Morgan, were also in attendance and wished the choir the very best on the tour. 

Jamaica Youth Chorale with representatives from the VM Group – Allison Morgan, Cover Moore, Natasha Reid

REDEMPTION SONGS TOUR

While in Washington DC, the group will also interact in a cultural exchange activity with students at the internationally renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts as well as make a stop at the National Museum of African and American History and Culture. Additionally, they will give a free concert later that evening at the historic Church of the Epiphany.

From Washington DC, the group will travel to Virginia on February 4 where they will give a performance inside the historic Shiloh Baptist Church under the patronage of Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater, former US Ambassador to Jamaica.

Before returning to Jamaica, the group will also travel to New York for a full concert at the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on February 5.

The Redemption Songs Tour concludes the JYC’s winter concert season which started in December 2022 with the return of ‘Christmas Joy’ inside the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI, Mona.

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