Local musicians to help celebrate black history month at GV

Courtesy Photo / thesoultrygroup.com

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / thesoultrygroup.com Soultry

Stephanie Allen

The Black History Month program at Grand Valley State University will continue tomorrow with the performance “Real. Soulful. Music.,” featuring a mixture of jazz, R&B, neo-soul and blues music by the local band SOULTRY.

GVSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs is bringing the band to the Loosemore Auditorium on the Pew Campus tomorrow at 7 p.m. to remind students of how important music is in African American culture.

Jazz music has been a part of Black History Month at GVSU for more than five years, said OMA associate director Bobby Springer. In previous years, the program featured bands with professors but switched to SOULTRY because of scheduling conflicts.

GVSU professor Monica Allen suggested SOULTRY to Springer because of the vocalist, Karen Beard.

“This year we wanted to highlight the more upbeat jazz,” Springer said. “She does a lot of performances in the city and across the state and I just thought it would be pretty neat to bring someone like that to Grand Valley. We’re very happy to have her perform downtown at the Loosemore Auditorium.”

Beard has a distinct fan base in West Michigan, which will draw in a community crowd along with GVSU students, faculty and staff. She said working with GVSU will expand her fan base and allow music to reach a different range of audiences than she’s used to.

“I think the songs that we are singing, I think that anybody can identify with,” Beard said. “It’s just a good body of songs.”

The concert is meant to be entertaining, while showing audiences how music in African American culture has also influenced other genres today. Beard describes her music as “old-school R&B,” which she is extremely excited to share with GVSU students and faculty.

“I’m excited to have new folks in the audience that have a new avenue in which to present good music,” Beard said.

The concert at GVSU will be slightly different than others Beard has done because of the location. The SOULTRY music makes audiences get up and dance and Loosemore Auditorium doesn’t have a dance floor, but Springer said if people feel like getting up and dancing, it’s encouraged that they should just stand up and dance.

He encourages students to attend the concert and said if they do, they will enjoy it. “Music kind of cuts across different lines of people and if you have good music, just like with good food, people seem to enjoy it and I think that will be the case with the performance,” Springer said.

The Black History Month celebrations at GVSU run through Feb. 28, ending with a Lecture by Diane Nash titled, “The Freedom Riders and Our Struggle for Racial Justice.” For more information about Black History Month and the “Real. Soulful. Music.” concert visit the OMA website at www.gvsu.edu/oma.

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