Hundreds of singers will be taking the Sprint Pavilion stage this weekend for the return of The C’ville Sing Out — not only to celebrate and nurture community unity, but also to show support for other cities living in the aftermath of violence.
The concert, the second to be presented by the organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir, is co-sponsored by the City of Charlottesville and Unity Days. It is designed to bring people together as the community continues to process the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017, and to seek healing and solutions.
This year’s concert is promoting community unity at home, singer Elly Tucker said, but it also is extending wishes for comfort and healing for other American communities that have suffered from recent violence — including three that are reeling from recent mass shooting incidents.
Conductor Jonathan Spivey “is putting in a special song in tribute to El Paso, Dayton [Ohio] and Gilroy [California],” Tucker said. “Everybody forgets all about Gilroy.”
Tucker said plans are in the works to livestream The C’ville Sing Out for those cities.
Although the special dedication remains a secret for now, Tucker shared several songs from the program that audience members can listen for on Saturday.
Joining the singers this year will be Ti Ames, Kelvin Reid, Glenn Stratton, Terri Allard and John D’earth. Allard and D’earth have written a new song for the occasion, “Hand Up,” and they will join the singers to present it, Tucker said. Allard also will lead the singers in a rendition of “Hallelujah.”
There also will be an encore performance of Evelyn Carter’s “Charlottesville,” written in the 1940s by a Burley High School teacher and Mount Zion First African Baptist Church member, which was embraced by audience members last year.
Community members who’d like to sing need to attend the rehearsal from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center next to Charlottesville High School. Expect to begin with sectionals, in which you’ll join other sopranos, altos, tenors and basses to learn your parts before joining the entire choir to rehearse as one.
“You start out in your voice parts, and then we come together so we can hear each other and sing with each other,” Tucker said. “It gives you goose pimples.
“It is a labor of love, and everybody is doing it for the right reasons. Nobody is showboating.”
It’s hard to predict just how many singers will be lifting their voices this time. More than 700 singers took part in last year’s inaugural event, and organizers expect a possible turnout of 1,000 or more.
Presenting the event on Saturday this year makes it more challenging for Jewish choir members to attend, and other Unity Days events will be attracting people during the weekend, but turnout still should be strong, Tucker said.
“The numbers are still coming in,” she said. “You will be able to hear it all the way down to Bashir’s and down the [Downtown] Mall.”
If you want to sing, just focus on doing your best. There’s no need to worry about whether or not you’re a virtuoso; just know that you are welcome.
“Jonathan says if you think you can’t sing, ‘When in doubt, shout,’ and, ‘If you think you’re off-key, it’s just jazz,’’’ Tucker said with a chuckle. “And Jonathan says, ‘All means all.’’’
It’s a chance to experience a transcendent feeling that musicians around the world have cherished for ages.
“When you’re singing together, you’re breathing together,” Tucker said. “Your hearts are beating together. You’re swaying together.
“You’re standing together. And this is how we create a community of unity.”