Burman University’s choir called Ubuntu will be putting on a special performance on Friday, February 24th. The choir is looking forward to putting on a concert called Unsung: A Celebration of Negro Spirituals.
Romando Carey is the conductor for Ubuntu which is the official choir for Burman University. He founded Ubuntu in 2019 alongside one of his classmates. The choir started out with 25 people but has grown to 38 members. Carey started the choir as a way of addressing a gap in musical performances composed and created by Black People.
“I am a classically trained musician so I really have a great appreciation for those composers, but I wanted to highlight Black composers and contributors to the fabric of choral music that don't look like the people we often think of. We created that choir to offer students that space,” explained Carey.
The choir has a special focus on negro spiritual music which delves into the history as well as the resilience and strength of Black People.
“Negro spirituals are a genre of music that came out of the period of enslavement of African peoples. They would sing, for example, work songs while they're on the plantation working on the fields to encourage themselves while they're enduring this very inhumane experience. I think that's quite a difficult thing to do to encourage people to keep on holding on in such a difficult and challenging circumstance rather than just telling them to rebel and overcome,” said Carey.
Although the genre of music can dip into emotions like sorrow and despair Carey says the music can celebrate hope creating a real whirlwind of an experience.
“You can expect to feel all the emotions. We're going to deal with the very difficult experience of the enslaved people, but also this juxtaposition of sorrow and pain but also hope and excitement and the longing for a better day. Those two things can coexist. Negro spirituals do a fantastic job of really appealing to human nature causing all of us to think about how difficult life can be when humans aren't treated the way they should be. It also calls us to look forward to and to take action to creating a better day for all of us,” said Carey.
Beyond that, Carey says the choir is looking forward to interacting with their audience and creating a really interactive experience. Those attending should be prepared to sing, dance, and celebrate as well as listen to vocals of Ubuntu.
The concert is free to attend but donations to Ubuntu’s Spring Tour to Toronto will be appreciated. Ubuntu will be performing on March 9th at the The Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre in Toronto as well as four major churches in Ontario.
“We'll also be doing some music workshops in high schools, public and private schools, working with youth and teaching them about negro spirituals and just teaching them about music in general,” said Carey.
In addition to performing and teaching Ubuntu will be out in the community helping out at shelters and with vulnerable populations.
“Ubuntu is a Zulu word from an African Language and it means ‘I am because we are’ and so it celebrates the fact that all humans are at our core, the very same. The way we treat and interact with each other helps to shape the kind of people we become. That's why we are really looking forward to traveling to Ontario and empowering young people to shape the world and shape others around them in the best way they can, no matter the circumstances they find themselves in,” explained Carey.
You can check out Unsung: A Celebration of Negro Spirituals Friday, February 24 at the College Heights Seven Day Adventist Church in Lacombe at 7:30PM. For more information on Ubuntu, click here.