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Jubilee singers inspire student body with strong vocals, powerful message

Jubilee Singers (photo by Emily Huang)

The Jubilee Singers’ voices filled the auditorium with a warm, energetic atmosphere as they harmonized through a variety of songs. Directed by music teacher Sheldon Reid, the Jubilee Singers performed in the auditorium Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. for their Annual Winter Concert, the first concert of their season. 

On the playbill, the theme of the concert, ‘Freedom,’ is written in bright white letters. According to Reid, the theme could be interpreted in many different ways, such as “freedom in being confident in one’s actions” or “for people of faith, the freedom of knowing that God has your back.”

One of the opening songs of the night was “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” a powerful spiritual written during the 1920s. The piece featured junior Gael Gabriel as the soloist with the choir to back her up. The singers expertly harmonized as the song came to a crescendo. 

The members of the chorus all were incredibly in tune with each other, easily continuing the song when Gabriel’s solo ended and swaying gently along to the beat. “Trust and security is very important to have a strong performance,” said senior Arthur Motoyama, who is a tenor.

When the Jubilee Singers began to clap to the music, members of the audience joined in as if they were part of the performance as well. Throughout their concert, there was not a single person who wasn’t clapping along with the chorus.

“God’s Got It” featured senior Dagny Griggs. Her powerhouse vocals echoed through the auditorium as she belted out the lyrics to the upbeat Christian gospel song. “I really liked the energy level of it,” Gabriel said. “Everyone was really involved in the performance.”

Notably, the choir performed “B.E. Y.O.U.,” which was written by Jubilee Singers alumnus Alexi Paraschos ‘05 and is, according to Reid, a highlight every year. According to Gabriel, the message of the song is important because “a lot of people like to change themselves because people tell them to, but that’s not really who they are.”

According junior Julianna Walsh, who is a soprano, “Free,” which featured seniors Jenn Tang and Lasya Thavanati, was a favorite among the singers. “It was a very powerful song and singing it with everyone really made me feel it. We all really got into the lyrics, and it was very meaningful and fun to perform it,” said Walsh.

The setlist was comprised of a variety of songs such as African spirituals, Civil Rights Movement protest songs, or inspiring tunes encouraging people to be themselves. 

“But in the end it’s not really the ‘genre’ that matters,” said senior Arthur Motoyama. “It’s where the music comes from: who wrote it, what experiences and ideas it was influenced by, and what the intended effect is.”

The Jubilee Singers brought positive and inspiring messages along with soulful music and beautiful vocals. According to Motoyama, the concert also serves as a reminder that North students should be thankful for their freedoms, and that the school should strive towards “[reaching] a point where everyone both within our community and around the world are able to…have their voices heard.”

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