Written By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
Visionaries push boundaries to bring a wider, more exciting vision that others may not initially see, but can ultimately support. We own our decisions without apology while striving to make choices that have impact and speak to the moment. In a now viral video, the congregants of Virginia Commonwealth University– Black Awakening Choir– embodied this mantra as they performed their transformative, modernistic, and compellingly ameliorated rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
Under directorship and arrangement by Joseph B. Clark (JoJo), these masters-of-music, performance and vocal execution boldly embarked upon the iconic Francis Scott Key 1814 canticle, which subsequentially became our nation anthem. This is an arduous task for even the most exceptional virtuosos. Key’s magnum opus is a lyrical masterpiece that’s brilliantly composed and arranged to vividly paint a compelling picture, while duly genuflecting the solemnity and sacredness of this particular moment in history over 200 years ago.
Historical Note: As a nighttime witness on a hill close by the British 1814 bombardment of Fort McHenry; Francis Scott Key vividly and poignantly delineate the pivotal moments whereas the beleaguered U.S army – with all odds and hope against them -, miraculously and defiantly came out victorious against the more powerful British enemy forces.
VCU Black Awaking Choir didn’t just deliver, they excelled because their performance was provocative and painted a compelling narrative that took their audience on a voyage, hence recording a moment in time. Their skill is so refined that they were indeed capable of enhancing, upgrading and rejuvenating a venerated, yet antiquated relic of our society. As I watched their social media views soar, I concluded VCU Black Awaking Choir is not just another vocal ensemble. They are one of those rare and gifted talents that watches the world, listen and study shifts in culture enabling them to make choices that speaks to what is happening in wider context. Their bringing value to their craft by building excitement with subject matter that can be talked about…Job well done! My glass is raised…..Deo