Columbia is promised a rare musical treat when the Town Center Community Association presents a concert by the Jubilee Singers. The concert at Oakland in Vantage Point at 8 p.m. March 5 will be the first Columbia appearance for the 16-voice a cappella choir.
The Jubilee Singers are selected from the best vocal music majors at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. The singing group, which was founded in 1871, has its roots in the history of our nation's traditional spiritual music. The group made its first fund-raising tour that same year. Since that initial tour 122 years ago, they have become musical ambassadors, introducing spiritual music to people all over the world.
According to Columbia resident Donna Rice, a Fisk University graduate and the person largely responsible for the Jubilee Singers' appearance in Columbia, an original prerequisite for being a member of the singers was possessing the rare trait of perfect pitch.
"This may no longer be true," Mrs. Rice says. "But, back then, the school couldn't afford to buy instruments for the students to use, so they were forced to rely solely upon their voices. It was this lack of instruments, and the beautiful a cappella voicing that made the Jubilee Singers unique."
Mrs. Rice notes that Fisk University struggled for survival in those early days.
"Along with Morehouse College in Atlanta, and Howard University in Washington, Fisk University was part of what was called the black Ivy League. These schools got the very best, the brightest and the most talented black students from all over the country."
The Jubilee Singers toured to raise money to keep their small, financially struggling school open.
In 1873, they traveled to Europe and performed for Britain's Queen Victoria. She was so impressed that in addition to a substantial donation, she commissioned a portrait of the singing group. That tour raised more than $40,000, an astounding sum of money in those times. Since then, the popularity of the Jubilee Singers has continued to grow, and their tours have raised millions of dollars in support of Fisk University.
Many of the spirituals sung by the group were composed by the students and faculty of Fisk over the years, and some have become spiritual standards.
"Lift Every Voice," the song commonly known as the Negro National Anthem, and a highlight of the Jubilee Singers performance, was composed by faculty members Jay Rosemond Johnson (music) and James Weldon Johnson (words).
Tickets for this event are $10, and may be purchased at Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, or by calling Cradelia Birdsong or Helen Ruther at 730-4744.
Village board elections are again upon us, and their importance is understood by most Columbia residents. Each village is represented by elected village boards, a member of which joins together with representatives of the other villages to form a larger community government, the Columbia Council.
This strong resident involvement in policy making at the local village level is a hallmark of Columbia's basic concept.
Nomination petitions for this year's elections will be available, beginning March 1, and may be picked up at the meeting hall of each local village center. The village board elections will be held on April 24.
For additional information, please call your local village center.
Slayton House announces the beginning of a new film series to be presented at the Slayton House Theatre. Bernice Kish, theater director at Slayton House, says, "These are rare, thought-provoking films, seldom seen on television, [that] offer more than just entertainment."
On Friday, the French film, "Zou Zou," starring the dazzling Josephine Baker, will be featured. A discussion featuring writer, producer and copyright consultant David Pierce will follow the movie. A reception with coffee and dessert will be provided after the discussion.
Future offerings will include, the original "Stairway To Heaven," Felini's notorious "8 1/2 " and a Chaplin review.
The cost is $3 per person and seating is limited.
For reservations, call 730-3987.
OK, all you closet actors, here's your big chance! The Columbia Community Players have announced they are holding tryouts for actors and actresses in preparation for a new play and novices are welcome to try out for various parts. Rehearsals begin on March 7 for a scheduled May performance.
For more information, call Laurence Bory at 381-4864.
BITS & PIECES: Anyone in Wilde Lake interested in playing Inter-Village Co-ed Softball, call Skip at 730-5847. . . . The Harper's Choice village board is looking for a new teen representative. Call Wendy Tzuker at 730-3888 for details. . . . "Defense Maneuvers: Self-Defense for Women" will be offered by Howard County General Hospital from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 4 and March 11. The cost is $45. For information, call 740-7600.