When I reviewed the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington concert new day in mid-March at the Lincoln Theater, I bragged about her virtue in showcasing inclusivity and equality with her wonderful renditions of songs on the subject. At this concert, each of the five components of GMCW performed, and I was introduced to the GenOUT Youth Chorus, its LGBTQI+ outreach ensemble and allies aged 13-18.
Well, this time the spotlight was on the GenOUT concert invasion of youth, in which I participated in THEARC. The program also included the community choir Mosaic Harmony, a group of seniors who are committed to “enabling choirs to fully entertain, inspire and engage audiences through both moving music and uplifting messages”. .
The concept of supporting young people – who not only face being young, but also the pressure to understand their sexual orientation and master self-acceptance – is a powerful mission of the GMCW. Achieving this goal through music is liberating and inspiring and lends itself to providing these young people with a way to gird themselves with pride, self-understanding and a deep sense of worth.
C. Paul Heins, director of GenOUT, provides training and artistic inspiration for these young people so that they can flourish and develop, through artistic expression, a confidence and self-affirmation that will allow them to better face the challenges that will come their way.
With this in mind, I imagined an evocative, festive and, yes, catchy repertoire. The program selections were certainly appropriate and hit the mark in terms of intent and relevance, but tended to be darker and more thoughtful. All songs – “Build Me a World”, “Reflection” (from the animated film Mulane), “Imagine” (based on the poem by longtime LGBTQI+ activist Donna Red Wing), “Write My Own ‘Story”, “The Human Heart” (from the musical Once on this island), “How Could Anyone?”, “I Was Here (Beyonce) and “You’re the New ‘Day’ – beautifully conveyed the hopes, dreams, aspirations and thoughts of these young people. The one song that surely could have been a showstopper, “Corner of the Sky” (from the musical Pippin apple), was only delivered discreetly. Towards the end, GenOUT performed with Mosaic Harmony in a simple rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the Negro national anthem).
Ironically, it was guest band Mosaic Harmony that got things moving. Led by the Reverend David North’s foot tapping, clapping and raising the roof, Mosaic Harmony’s performance became a glorious celebration with lively versions of the gospel songs “Love in Any Language”, “Better” and “One” by Hezekiah Walker. World.” Reverend North said he wanted to bring a “new flavor” to the gospel staple “Soon I Will Be Done,” made popular in the 1959 film. impersonation of life sung by the great Mahalia Jackson. Man, did he deliver! He infused this deeply witty anthem with jazzy inflections and uptempo flourishes that had the audience applauding and rejoicing with abandon. (Mahalia wouldn’t want to hear it anymore!) That closing number was just the right touch that the whole affair should have reflected.
The fact that it was shared with this wonderful, young and talented group will make it an experience and a lesson they will never forget. It was a great example of how breaking through unnecessary barriers and restrictions can create great connection and mutual appreciation. It was an afternoon I would gladly spend again.
Youth Invasion was performed by the GenOUT Youth Chorus with special guest Mosaic Harmony on April 23, 2022 at THEARC Theater, 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, Washington, DC, and April 24, 2022 at MLK Library Auditorium, 901 G Street NW , Washington DC.
the Youth Invasion playbill is online here.
For future Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington concerts and events – including GMCW’s Spring Affair fundraiser on May 14, 2022 – visit their website.
GMCW’s Inspirational “Brand New Day” Sings of Equality and Inclusiveness (review by Michael Sante-Andress)
featuring GenOUT Youth Chorus with special guest Mosaic Harmony
GenOUT YOUTH CHOIR
“Build me a world” | Ginger Littleton
“Reflection” | Music by Matthew Wilbur of Mulane | Lyrics by David Zippel | Arranged by Mac Huff
“Corner of Heaven” | Stephen Schwartz of Pippin apple | Arranged by John Cacavas
“Imagine” | Music by Jennifer Higdon | Poem by Donna Red Wing
“Writing my own story” | GenOUT Chorus & Jim Papoulis
“The Human Heart” | Music by Stephen Flaherty of Once on this island | Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens | Arranged by Raymond Rinaldo | Soloist: Paul Negron
“Chosen Family” | Rina Sawayama, Danny Harle and Jonny Latimer | Arranged by Raymond Rinaldo | Soloists: Alex Dy Cruz, Paul Negron
“How could anyone?” | Libby Roderick | Arranged by Mac Huff
“I was here” | Gary Burr, Hillary Scott and Victoria Shaw | Arranged by Alan Billingsley
“You are the new day” | John David | Arranged by Peter Knight | Adapted by Jacob Narverud
“Love in any language” | John Mohr and John Mays | Soloists: Laura Romstedt, Kim Moss (4/24), Doug Powell
“Better” | Hezekiah Walker
YOUTH CHOIR GenOUT & MOSAIC HARMONY
“Raise every voice and sing” | Music by J. Rosamond Johnson | Poem by James W. Johnson
“Soon I’ll be finished” | African American Spiritual | Arranged by David K. North
“One World” | Mark Hayes