Urban Church Music Friendships
Do you know about Follen’s Urban Church Music Friendships Initiative?
Under the leadership of Director of Music Vivian Montgomery, with support from all corners of the community, we are forging collaborations with Charles Street AME Church in Roxbury, Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts Academy, Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain, and other institutions, in order to bring our musical community into closer contact with their extraordinary work and members through a number of events.
For our March 31 Music Service, all Follen choirs (Adult, Youth, Children’s) were joined by the choir and director of the Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts Academy for a collaboration focused on songs about segregation, racial injustice, and the quest for freedom, with excerpts from a song cycle reflecting the story of Freddy Gray. The Follen Responds to Racism group hosted a “listening lunch” following the service, where information about HGMAA were shared and some of the principles and ideas captured in the collaboration could be reflected upon.
In 2019-20, Follen plans to host composer, song-leader, and activist Melanie DeMore in a two-pronged residency involving our choirs, our community, and singers from the AME churches for a number of workshops, sings, and services. In particular, Melanie uses African stick-pounding workshops as a community-building, division-bridging vehicle, and she leads anti-prejudice events in religious institutions and schools across the country. She is in great demand for her work in this realm, so bringing her to Massachusetts three times in the course of the year would give other congregations and organizations, along with the UU Urban Ministry, the chance to host her and to join in as co-presenters with Follen.
Check her out on Youtube and at her website: http://www.melaniedemore.com/
We’re so excited about these relationships being formed – they are an opportunity for us to bring honesty, humility, joy, creativity, and simple humanity into direct connection with individuals in order to find greater understanding and trust.
All of this is possible through the collective musical experience! We can look forward to intersecting with other churches’ music programs, with music activists like Melanie DeMore, and with our own anti-racist efforts through the Music Friendships initiative.