Published: Jan. 4, 2016

Spreading social awareness through music

Contact(s): Kathleen Adams College of Music office: (517) 353-9958

As part of its annual commemorative concert celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., on Jan. 17 Michigan State University’s Jazz Orchestra I will perform the world premiere of “Do You Know My Name?” the first major jazz work to address human trafficking.

Grammy-winning composer Billy Childs wrote the piece specifically for the MSU jazz group and he will conduct it during the 3 and 7 p.m. performances at MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theatre. Guest vocalist Alicia Olatuja will join the group.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and her husband, Roy, commissioned the piece, which was the brainchild of Associate Professor of Composition Mark Sullivan, Director of Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker and James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music.

“I knew just the right composer who could communicate and capture the emotion and humanity of this very important subject," Whitaker said.

The Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force partnered with the College of Music for the initiative.

“Having arts and arts-based organizations work in the Michigan task force will be a complete game changer,” Sullivan said.

“Do You Know My Name?” will be performed as part of “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest Concert,” which will include several pieces to promote social awareness through music.

The event is also connected to MSU Project 60/50, which launched in January 2014 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision in Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Free tickets, which are required for admission, may be picked up at the College of Music main office located in the Music Building, 333 W. Circle Drive, Room 102.

MSU is hosting a variety of events to honor the life and legacy of King. For more information, visit

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