Choir on tour of historyPublished 5:12pm Monday, June 9, 2014
By Christopher Edmunds
The Selma Times-Journal
Seventeen young voices filled the sanctuary of Memorial United Methodist Church Monday with songs of love and praise.
The Voices of Grace youth choir visited Selma as part of a choir tour that began at their home in Frisco, Texas.
Bill Roberts, director of the choir, said the tour is focused on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The choir has already visited Shreveport, La., and Jackson, Miss. The group will visit and perform in several cities important to civil rights history, including Montgomery, Atlanta and Memphis.
“When they see something in black and white from 50 years ago, it seems like a foreign country to them,” Roberts said. “By actually traveling to see these places, it brings it back to reality.”
In keeping with the civil rights theme of the tour, the choir sang a mixture of spirituals and contemporary music. The group sang a total of 11 songs, including the spiritual “Keep Your Lamps!” and “Blackbird,” by The Beatles.
Steve Kopp, pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church, said he was happy to host the visiting choir.
“Music touches us in a way that words can’t,” Kopp said. “Anytime that I can have a group of young people to come sing and inspire us with music, our church will help them share what’s on their hearts. We were thankful to get the call from this group wanting to visit Selma, and we’re glad to have them here with us.”
Libby Farris, 15, performed a solo during the song, “Draw the Circle Wide” by Mark Miller.
Farris said one of the best moments on the trip so far was having the chance to meet James Meredith, the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi.
“It was really surprising,” Farris said. “He had a really good input on life and taught us a bunch of new things that we have never thought about.”
Roberts said the tour is going well and he is looking forward to the upcoming concerts.
“Today they’ll have the chance to walk the [Edmund Pettus Bridge] and hopefully visit a museum while we’re here. This just brings it all back to the kids,” he said.