When Bethlehem’s Bel Canto Youth Chorus sought local Underground Railroad-centric sites for its video performance of African American music, Richland Friends Meeting House was an easy add. The former Quakertown slavery safehouse proved wholly appropriate to the performance’s message, reported Michelle Merlin for The Morning Call.
The choir’s concert piece, “Singing the Underground Railroad,” wasn’t just about learning notes. It became an opportunity to weave an academic component into the rehearsals.
Assigned research raised the young singers’ awareness on systemic racism, both long ago and present day. The choristers dug into current injustices in employment, healthcare, housing, education, and the criminal justice system.
The curriculum resonated personally with Wamuni Mwaura. Her son, a nine-year-old, is the choir’s only Black member.
“He realizes that being an African American it may be hard, some of the songs were saying it’s hard, but they won’t take away my soul,” she said.
She said being in the music video helped her son feel good about himself. It underlined the idea that even at a young age, he can still be influential as an African American.
The performance includes an arrangement of the song “Stand Up” from the Harriet Tubman 2019 biopic Harriet.
More on this cultural exploration through song and lyric is at The Morning Call.