On Oct. 8, the Samuel Morris statues were accompanied by roughly 90 Taylor students, unified through their voices.
The idea stemmed from Reed Spencer, who had originally planned a Civil Rights tour for Chorale. However, with COVID-19 restrictions becoming tighter and tighter, he turned to the Office of Intercultural Programs for any ideas.
“Dr. Reed Spencer was like, ‘Hey, I have this music, this brand-new thing that we didn’t get to share, and I would love to do an event with the Black Student Union and Gospel Choir. Oh, and Taylor theatre also wants to be involved,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, yeah,’” said Junior Lauryn Terry, co-president of the Black Student Union.
Planning for this new event began over the summer, and Terry, along with her co-president Senior LaShae Mobley were thrilled about putting it on.
With the death of George Floyd and subsequently the Black Lives Matter Movement gaining more traction than ever, it seemed like the perfect time to throw such an event in order to make sure those on Taylor’s campus were truly acknowledging what was happening to their Black brothers and sisters in Christ.
Conversations needed to be started, and people needed to become more educated on what was happening in the world around them.
“This is a good time to celebrate the Black performance, not performing arts, but the Black experience in general, because there’s a lot of good that comes from the Black community,” Terry said.
It was a way to bring unity to Taylor through something that each student actively interacts with on a daily basis: art.
Chorale began preparing at the start of the semester, and auditions for other showcases began in early September.
From then on, it became a constant grind in order to present what many students witnessed at the statues.
“It’s so good for us to show people who we are, and let people know more about the cultural things that are going on, no matter who is participating,” Mobley shared.
From solos, ensembles, skits, duets and dancing, ‘I Gotta Sound’ presented impactful performances that required the audience to think and truly interact with what they were seeing and hearing.
With personal messages from the composers of some songs performed and visible passion from each student involved, not only was it an experience for the viewer, but for those who put it together and performed it.
Spencer said, “I hope that everyone attending and involved witnessed the brilliance of Black artists on our campus around the country and experienced a way to enter into discussions of race, justice, human dignity and Christ in our divided culture with artistry, kindness and grace.”
Spencer was not alone in hoping the audience gained a new perspective.
Mobley, as both a performer and a planner of the event, shared similar thoughts with Spencer when asked what she wanted the audience to take away from the event.
“I want people to know that we have a voice that should be heard through many different talents and whether it’s singing, dancing, speaking, or just having a group orchestrated dance, I just want people to know that we are here to express ourselves and let them know who we are as a whole,” Mobley said.
On Oct. 8, these voices were heard. It was truly a celebration of culture, diversity and stories.
“This is not a talent show for Black people,” Terry said. “This is not what this is for. This is to elevate black voices, Black excellence and the Black experience.