Community musical celebration fit for King's birthday

Friday, January 14, 2005

In his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presented his vision of a world where all children could co-exist in peace.

Thursday night at the Osage Community Centre, his dream was honored as children of different races from Cape Girardeau came together to deliver musical tributes in a communitywide celebration of King's birthday, which is Jan. 15.

"This event is designed to give area youth the opportunity to honor the late Reverend King for his many significant contributions to the nation," said event organizer Debra Mitchell-Braxton, who spoke to a crowd of about 500. "Each of the youth here tonight is a future leader of our nation."

Ebonee Ray then introduced the master and mistress of ceremonies, David Allen Jr. and Lauren Lee, and reminded everyone about the spirit of the celebration.

"Remember, this is a party, especially a happy birthday celebration," Ray told the audience.

Throughout the evening, Allen and Lee would seek to educate the audience about the life of King, giving details and impressions of his accomplishments and sacrifice between performances.

"Dr. King would have been 77 years old on Saturday," Allen said, "and still would have the spirit of a 21-year-old."

After the crowd joined together in singing the national anthem and "Lift Every Voice," Allen introduced the Cape Central Middle School group, Shere Khan, under the direction of Pamela Dumey.

The group played two Ghanian songs, complete with African percussion instruments. Performers banged out mesmerizing rhythms on drums and xylophone-like instruments that made sounds like multi-tonal raindrops.

The choir's performance was followed by a solo sung by Michael Dumey, director of the Cape Central Junior High School choir. He chose "For All the World," a song about bringing peace and hope to a troubled world.

"He left a legacy of peace felt not only in our nation, but around the world," Dumey said. "It's truly amazing what this man could show with the power of one. This song exemplifies that."

Dumey was followed by the Cape Central Junior High eighth-grade percussion group, which played the instrumental selection "Mozambique." The crowd screamed for an encore.

The audience would be even more pleased with the Cape Central Junior High choir's performance of "Oh, Happy Day." The tune followed up the choir's performance of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah," which the choir originally sang at its winter concert.

Jondrea Riley led the group, accompanied by other featured performers: Dionna Metcalfe, Cat Goeke, Sarah Uptmor, Emily Gerlock, Jamie Todd and Madison Brown.

But it was the final performer, Ramona Robinson, who would bring down the house with two songs, "May the Work I Have Done Speak for Me" and "Abraham, Martin and John."

"Every year the students are more and more talented," Mitchell-Braxton said. "I'm honored they give so much and start so early in their lives to pay tribute to Dr. King and his legacy, and as adults, I hope they'll encourage their families and others to be a part of this very important holiday."

Events will continue Monday with the memorial breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Show Me Center, the humanitarian benefit at noon at the Osage Community Centre, the youth gala at 4 p.m. at Westfield Shoppingtown West Park and the gospel celebration at 7 p.m. at Cape First Church.

Reservations for the humanitarian benefit, with lunch provided, can be made until 5 p.m. Saturday.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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