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MSU offers two free performances celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michigan State University College of Music’s annual “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest” concert celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be performed twice on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theatre. 

The university-wide day of celebration theme follows Maya Angelou’s inspiring poem “Still I Rise.” Angelou was one of the most forward-thinking women of the civil rights movement and is known for her acclaimed poems, books, plays and autobiographies.

“It is very fitting that we draw on the inspiring words ‘Still I Rise’ of artist-activist Maya Angelou given that 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the right for women to vote and the 150th anniversary of the first female students enrolling at MSU,” said Rodney Whitaker, University Distinguished Professor of jazz bass and director of the MSU Jazz Studies program. “Women have always been major contributors to the development of our culture, society and music. Our program at this year’s performances will reflect that fact.” 

Michael Dease will conduct MSU Jazz Orchestra II for the concert. Featured guests in the program will include speaker A. Van Jordan, American poet and professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. Performances include Tiffany Gridiron, vocals; Robyn Smith, trombone and Nicole Glover, tenor saxophone. Jazz compositions arranged by Gina Benalcazar, Christopher Glassman and Jordyn Davis.

The MSU Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives has organized MSU’s 40th Annual Celebration of MLK Day with a movie screening, a march and more. A full schedule of events can be found on the MSU OIII web site.

Both jazz performances are free, but tickets are required for admission. Tickets are available over the phone at 517-353-5340 or in the College of Music main office located in the Music Building, Room 102, on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Remaining tickets will be made available at the door. Unclaimed will-call tickets will be released 10 minutes prior to the event.

By: Michael Sundermann