How did I learn about it? Through my editor Lynn Pribus, who sings with both the Charlottesville Threshold Choir – a group which sings for those in need of healing and comfort – and the Charlottesville Women’s Choir – a member of the nationwide Sister Singers Network. I support AATF and Lynn, but there were other reasons to find this choir concert meaningful.
The two choirs Lynn sings with were the white choirs on the program. The black choirs were the Chapman Grove Baptist Church and the Mount Zion First African Baptist Church (sixty members strong). The Charlottesville High School choir had various hues and both genders. The emcee, a local black radio personality made a point of commenting on the diversity of the choirs singing together on the same stage.
He also stressed that while the Threshold Choir members were all Caucasian women, five days earlier they’d sung at the bedside of an elderly African-American woman at a local nursing home. At the concert the choir sang “Sister, My Sister,” one of the songs they’d sung for her.
The fact that black and white choirs sang together in the Paramount Theater was another symbol of progress. The Paramount used to be a segregated movie house. The Third Street Entrance was originally intended for use by African-American patrons, because it led to the balcony, which was the only seating for blacks. Today the mission of the theater is “to educate, enchant, enrich and enlighten.”
The grand finale had all choirs on stage singing together and leading the audience in a rousing rendition of “Come and Go to that Land.” Those many voices joyously harmonizing about how we’ll all be together in that land sounds like real progress to me.