Juneteenth Jubilee concert to highlight Black American musical heritage

Juneteenth Jubilee concert to highlight Black American musical heritage

Govan’s role as an important regional hub of racial justice and the arts is reflected in an all-star lineup being assembled for the second annual Juneteenth concert.

The show is again being assembled by our own Minister for Racial Justice, Lea Gilmore, herself an acclaimed vocalist and human rights advocate. She says it will include blues, jazz and folk selections.

“We want to show the multifaceted roots of African American music,” says Lean. “It’s so significant that Juneteenth has become a federal holiday – it has been a long time coming,” Lea says.

The holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. and takes its name from the day in 1865 when enslaved Black Americans in Texas learned of emancipation. President Joe Biden made it a federal holiday in 2021.

The concert is free and will begin at 7 p.m. on June 10th in the sanctuary at 5828 York Road.

Lea says she views the Govan’s concert as a celebration of African-American musical heritage. 

Several members of The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra are on the playlist as part of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians Foundation outreach.

“There are so many young composers of color these days that we have a lot of music to choose from in the classical tradition, in addition to gospel, R&B, blues and other genres,” says BSO bassist Jonathan Jensen, who will be performing. “Getting to work with Lea and members of the church makes this project especially rewarding.”

The program will include works by a number of important Black composers and performers. Among them: “Four Women,” a tribute to the victims of the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham written by Nina Simone, a civil rights activist ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest singers of all time, and “Brown Baby,” written by Oscar Brown Jr. after the birth of his first son.

A contemporary selection, “Unified Prayer,” was composed by B.E. Boykin, a Virginia native and graduate of Spellman College, the Westminster Choir College and Georgia State University.

Several of the performers are familiar to Govan’s music programs, including Roderick Demmings Jr., an award-winning pianist and organist who, at the age of 12, performed a solo at Carnegie Hall. He later graduated from Hopkin’s Peabody Conservatory and has appeared around the world, including a tour in South Africa and performances at the Vatican and the Kennedy Center.

Keith Snipes, a Baltimore actor, poet, vocalist, and songwriter, and has appeared at several Govan’s events as well as performances at Baltimore’s Keystone Korner and Washington’s Takoma Station, among other venues. He’ll sing “Brown Baby” and join with Lea in a rendition of Brook Benton’s “Rockin Good Way.”

Our own Andy Wilson will play songs by the late Delta bluesman Son House and influential folk singer Elizabeth Cotten.

Photos from last year’s Juneteenth Jubilee. By Justin Camejo.