The Heritage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York will host the eighteenth annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The celebratory event, the largest public performance honoring Dr. King in New York City, will feature a keynote address by the acclaimed jazz musician and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis. The internationally renowned ensemble, The Boys Choir of Harlem, and legendary a cappella group, The Persuasions, will headline the musical portion of the celebration. Opening up the festivities will be The Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble. Following the tribute in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, BAM Rose Cinemas-in association with the National Black Programming Consortium—will present special screenings of the new documentary, Citizen King. The Opera House tribute and film screenings are free and open to the public with seating available on a first-come, first-seated basis. The presenting sponsor for the eighteenth annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Come Share the Dream event is Target Stores.
Born and raised in Crown Heights, Borough President Marty Markowitz began his public career in 1971, at the age of 26, by organizing the Flatbush Tenants Council, which grew into Brooklyn Housing and Family Services, the largest tenants' advocacy organization in New York State. Markowitz was elected to the New York State Senate in 1979 and served eleven consecutive terms in Albany, but his dream in life has always been to lead Brooklyn as borough president, a goal he attained when he arrived in office in January 2002. As Borough President, Markowitz has committed himself to being "Brooklyn's chief advocate, biggest promoter, best salesman, greatest defender, and most enthusiastic cheerleader." His career is most often described as one of passionate and powerful advocacy on behalf of Brooklyn and its residents, particularly in the areas of housing, health, education, neighborhood preservation, and community development. As a senator, he was credited with running one of the best constituent service offices in the state. In addition, Markowitz is credited with creating two of New York City's largest free concert series: the Seaside Summer Concert series, inaugurated in 1979, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert series, launched in 1983, which bring international stars to standing-room-only audiences each summer.
An accomplished jazz artist and classically trained musician, Wynton Marsalis has helped propel jazz to the forefront of American culture through his brilliant performances, recordings, compositions, and his vision as Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. For his epic three-hour oratorio "Blood on the Fields," Marsalis became the first jazz artist to be awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in music. Since making his recording debut as a bandleader in 1982, Marsalis has produced an incomparable catalogue of close to 40 outstanding jazz and classical recordings for which he has earned nine Grammy Awards.
Marsalis has been honored by Time magazine which selected him as one of "America's 25 Most Influential People" and Life magazine which named him one of "The 50 Most Influential Boomers" in recognition of his critical role in increasing awareness of jazz in the consciousness of an entire generation. In March 2001, Marsalis was designated a United Nations of "Messenger of Peace" by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and in June 2002 he received the Congressional "Horizon Award." Internationally respected as a teacher and spokesman for music education, Marsalis has received honorary doctorates from more than a dozen universities and colleges. Through Jazz at Lincoln Center's educational programming, he regularly conducts master classes, lectures, and concerts for students of all ages.
This year The Boys Choir of Harlem, founded by Dr. Walter J. Turnbull, celebrates its 35th anniversary. Internationally recognized for its virtuoso performances, the choir's repertoire ranges from Haydn, Bach, and Mozart through more modern composers such as Ginastera and Poulenc, to contemporary works from such artists as Bernstein and Hailstork. African-American spirituals, gospel, jazz, pop, and hip-hop are also incorporated into The Boys Choir of Harlem performances. With its magnetic stage presence the choir has won critical and popular acclaim and has toured internationally, performing at such prestigious venues as London's Cathedral of St. Paul and Royal Albert Hall; Paris' St. Germain des Prìs; and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. Four Asian tours have included performances in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
In addition to its regular schedule of performances, The Boys Choir of Harlem also has performed at celebrations including The United Nations 50th Anniversary Concert, the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty, Pope John Paul II's Sunrise Mass in Central Park, and the 1993 Presidential Inauguration. Most recently, the choir participated in the commemorative ceremony for the African Burial Ground Reinterment Project. As recording artists, The Boys Choir of Harlem has released several CDs including Celebrate, The Boys Choir of Harlem Schubert & Spirituals, BCH Sings America, and BCH We Shall Overcome.
Considered the "kings of a cappella" by fans worldwide, The Persuasions have led an incredible career innovatively adapting songs with their own inimitable arrangements. Pioneers in the music business, band members Jerry Lawson, Jayotis Washington, Jimmy Hayes, Ray Sanders, and Joe Russell have influenced such groups as Boyz II Men, Take 6, and Rockapella. With nearly 8000 performances and more than 20 records spanning the genres of gospel, Christmas music, children's music, and the music of Frank Zappa, The Beatles, and The Grateful Dead, The Persuasions show no signs of slowing down. Most recently the group recorded A Cappella Dreams, a tribute to the various artists who influenced them.
Initially formed in 1962 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, The Persuasions first achieved mainstream success in 1974 with their hit single "I Really Got It Bad For You." Further praise followed as The Persuasions' seminal 1977 album Chirpin' was named one of the Top 100 albums of the 1970's by Rolling Stone. Over the years the group has collaborated and recorded with such artists as Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Joni Mitchell, and The Neville Brothers. The group gained further recognition from the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CASA), wining Best Doo-Wop Album in 2000.
Congregants of the landmark Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, (which was a stop on the Underground Railroad), The Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble is a vital part of the music scene in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. With its heavenly voices, eclectic sounds, and dynamic performances, this choir creates electrifying and unforgettable music. Career highlights include its celebrated performance in Donald Byrd's critically acclaimed Harlem Nutcracker, which made its New York premiere at BAM in 1996, and the blues opera Slain in the Spirit, with composer/blues artist Taj Mahal and singer Fontella Bass at Arts at St. Ann's. The group also has performed for two American presidents and for the Pope's 20th anniversary celebration at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
This new documentary, which will premiere as part of PBS' American Experience series, celebrates the 75th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday by exploring the last five years of his life. After his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963, Dr. King embarked on a controversial path, speaking out against the Vietnam War and championing the poor in America. This documentary, from acclaimed filmmakers Orlando Bagwell (Africans in America, Malcolm X: Make It Plain) and Noland Walker (This Far by Faith, Africans in America) draws on the personal recollections and eyewitness accounts of friends, civil rights movement associates, journalists, law enforcement officers, and historians to illuminate this little-known chapter in the story of America's most important and influential moral leader.#
For information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit www.bam.org