By Samantha Lund
A mix of Pacific Lutheran University and community talent shared a stage for a night to sing and swing the night away. Lagerquist Concert Hall was full of pride and perspective students, watching performances and singing along as the groups honored Black History Month Feb. 21.
The admissions office and the music department sponsored the event, and their goal was to show prospective and transfer students alike what PLU has to offer, Melannie Denise Cunningham, the director of multicultural recruitment, said.
“We’ve been able to showcase the fabulous things that our students do, and so the community has been able to immerse themselves in actual student learning,” Cunningham said. “It’s been a great thing.”
The concert highlighted many musical groups on campus. The PLU Wind Ensemble opened, followed by the Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble. The PLU Chorale followed, giving the audience a taste for the many types of music performed and studied on campus.
“Some of the pieces we are doing are hymns or Negro spirituals,” Sandra Allen, from The Greater Works Chorale, said. “We get to celebrate black history which is a part of American history. So in a sense, we’re part of American history, and we are glad to be here.”
The PLU Jazz Ensemble brought a new twist to the performance with two guests: The PLU Swing Dance Club joined them onstage to showcase their art in honor of Black History Month as well as a guest vocalist, Professor Marlette Buchanan singing “Cottontail.”
“It’s just a great event,” first-year Thomas Hom, a performer, said. “I hope it continues till next year. There are just some awesome acts.”
After the PLU groups had performed, musical groups from the community came onstage to perform, beginning with Obe Quarless on the steel drums.
Buchanan returned to the stage accompanied by a piano. After her, another vocalist, alum Stephanie Anne Johnson, came to the stage. The Greater Works Chorale, singing in honor of Black History Month, wrapped up the night of performances.
The last act was not just for performers, but the audience as well. In the back of every program was a song the audience could sing along to with the performers.
The song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was written to honor the history of African Americans and performed for the first time as a poem on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in a segregated school.
Cunningham said the showcase was great for admissions and prospective students must have been impressed.