Tue | Mar 28, 2023

JYC to sing Redemption Songs in historic Washington National Cathedral

Tribute to Reggae and Black History Months

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2023 | 12:24 AM
The JYC in performance at a pre-tour recital in the Ballroom of King’s House last Sunday afternoon.
The JYC in performance at a pre-tour recital in the Ballroom of King’s House last Sunday afternoon.

The Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, is among several historic venues in the United States slated to be filled with the sounds of the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) this week.

The internationally acclaimed group will be in the US during the first week of February on its Redemption Songs tour which will showcase choral repertoire by Jamaican and African American composers appropriate for the commemoration and celebration of Reggae and Black History Months.

The choir will make their first stop at the National Cathedral on February 2, with a free 30-minute concert just after noon.

Funding partners and other invited guests of the group were treated to snippets of the repertoire at a pre-tour recital in the Ballroom of King’s House last Sunday afternoon. Founder and musical director of the JYC, Greg Simms, in his opening remarks thanked the partners in attendance for their support, which has made the trip possible. He noted that fine-tuning was still being done to ensure the group effectively represents the country, even amid the winter temperatures.

“We are excited to go and present these top-class compositions from our Jamaicans as well as put our own unique interpretations on those arrangements done by our African American counterparts,” he said.

The pre-tour recital included Noel Dexter’s Bright Soul, Suppose We Doh Meet arranged by CS Walters, and Greg Simms’ spin on the popular folk tune, Evening Time. Dr Kathy Brown was also in the mix with her arrangements of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and Wonderful Jamaica. The choir showed their versatility from the show opener, Lift Every Voice and Sing, a composition by African American Roland Carter.

Simms said the group is aiming to use the experience to exchange and network with other choirs, composers and creative professionals as well as engage with the Jamaican diaspora. While in Washington, DC, the group will also interact in a cultural exchange activity with students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as well as make a stop at the National Museum of African and American History and Culture. They will give a free concert at the historic Church of the Epiphany.

From Washington, DC, the group will travel to Virginia, where they will give a performance inside the historic Shiloh Baptist Church under the patronage of Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater, former US ambassador to Jamaica.

Before returning to Jamaica, the group will also travel to New York for a full concert at the St Augustine’s Episcopal Church on February 5.

The Redemption Songs Tour concludes the JYC’s winter concert season which started in December 2022 with the return of Christmas Joy inside the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI, Mona.

Funding for JYC’s winter season has come from CHASE Fund’s Entertainment Industry Support Initiative 2022 and the VM Group.