The Whittier School Choir of thirty five students, from third through sixth grades, sang at the Chicago Children’s Choir concert celebrating Black History Month on Friday, Feb. 18, in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The first choirs to perform, Whittier and Mcnair (two schools were always paired) led with two lively songs, beginning with ‘Momma Don’t ‘Low,’ listing all the actions Momma don’t ‘low: hand clappin’, foot stompin’, honkey tonk piano playin’, trumpet playin’, jazz music, only to conclude that ‘We’re gonna sing our hearts out low and proud,’ cuz’ ‘Momma jus’ wants some children singing ’round here.’ After that rousing start, the children followed with a lively spiritual, ‘I Will Sing Unto the Lord.’ repeating ‘Hallelujah’ with raised hands.
Many choirs from paired schools followed, and our students were entertained with an amazing array of songs, introduced by Crystal Bowyer, the Director of Advancement. Ms. Bowyer told interested stories about the struggle against slavery and the role that music played in helping African Americans express their feelings. She told the history of the Chicago Children’s Choir, which was started 50 years ago by Rev. Christopher Moore in Hyde Park, when integration was taking place. He wanted Black, white and Latin children to learn to live together by experiencing the same feelings while singing together. She explained the opportunities in the choirs, from school choirs, to community choirs, where children learn to read music, to the Red Jacket Choir, which tours around the world. Josephine Lee, the President and Artistic Director of the Choir, greeted the children. Then everyone sang together the inspirational Black National Anthem, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ and joined hands while singing in a heart felt way, ‘We Shall Overcome.’ Andy Morgan, the director, expects the best from the children, in singing and behavior, and the children respond. The mothers who were chaperons were proud, the children were proud, and we can all be proud.
Ms. Irene Vitullo