Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of Black History


Wednesday, February 24, 2016
7:00 pm


Purchase College is pleased to present Lift Every Voice:  A Celebration of Black History on Wednesday, February 24th at 7pm in the PepsiCo Theatre at The Performing Arts Center.

The evening celebrates and honors the work of two towering figures in African American arts and letters, James Weldon Johnson and James Baldwin. Identifying these men as “artists” seems curiously insufficient, as both were powerfully multi-dimensional in ways that seem even more compelling today than when they were alive. Johnson (1871-1938) was not simply a poet and author, but a lawyer, a university professor, a diplomat, and the leader of the NAACP. Baldwin (1924-1987) was not only a playwright, but also a hugely influential novelist, poet, essayist, and social activist. Tonight we choose to honor Johnson’s poetry and song, and Baldwin’s contribution to American theatre—but it could easily be otherwise.

The program is comprised of a collection of powerful presentations from the Purchase academic and artistic communities. Art History Prof. Genevieve Hyacinthe offers her wisdom as she interprets recent events, including the Black Lives Matter movement, in light of past historical and cultural precedents. Directed by Prof. I. Dean Irby, Purchase Repertory Theatre excerpts a scene from their recent, phenomenal interpretation of Baldwin’s Blues for Mr. Charlie, a production which, for those lucky enough to have seen it, quintessentially captured what it means for an artist’s words, ideas, and nuances to seem “timeless.” And finally, Johnson’s body of work is doubly celebrated and interpreted by our very own Soul Voices, a wonderfully gifted and spirited group of students from across the campus, under the direction of Prof. Pete Malinverni. Soul Voices opens our show with a performance of Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (a song so vitally important it was widely identified as the African American national anthem) then close the evening with something truly special—the premiere of The Creation, a brand new work based on Johnson’s poem of the same name, in which Prof. Malinverni and choreographer Prof. Kevin Wynn have joined forces, bringing the magic of Soul Voices together with the power and grace of our Purchase Dance Company as they interpret, renew, and transform Johnson’s written words into movement and song.

A public reception will cap the evening in the Upper Lobby where a photo exhibit entitled Interpretations by Conservatory of Dance student Joy-Marie Thompson is on view, in which she reimagines classic shots of African American dancers in her own image.

The event is free and open to the public.

Event Location and Ticket Information

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Purchase College Performing Arts Center
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, New York 10577
Handicap Accessible? Yes

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Times: 7:00 pm

Ticket pricing:
Free event
Get tickets now

Presenter: Purchase College School of the Arts
Presenter Phone: 914-251-4455
Presenter Website:

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