York University Black History Month event features spoken word poetry, gospel music

Click to play video: 'York University hosts concert for Black History Month'
York University hosts concert for Black History Month
WATCH: For Black History Month, professors and students held a concert exploring the origins as well as the significance of gospel music. – Feb 12, 2020

As part of Black History Month, York University invited members of the public to learn more about the origins of gospel music at the concert on Wednesday.

The event, entitled Word, Sound, Power: Black Artistic Expression, was hosted by the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora, which is currently held by York University professor Carl James.

“When we introduced the idea of having gospel as something that we should do tonight, we thought about it knowing that the black community is diverse and not all of us have the same relationship with gospel,” James said Wednesday evening.

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“Black [people] to accept and appreciate gospel for what it enabled, [but] not all of us have Christian roots and those who might have Christian roots.
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“We have to recognize that there are some people who may have distanced themselves from those kinds of roots.”

Karen Burke, associate professor at York University’s school of the arts, media, performance and design, said gospel music has had influences in modern-day music.

“Gospel music the root of basically all the Black music that we hear in mainstream, whether it is rhythm and blues, rock or jazz,” she said.

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Wednesday evening’s events featured performances from York University’s R & B ensemble, gospel choir and students performed spoken word poetry.

“Gospel … is how people told their stories and it was another medium for people to carry on their traditions and they are easily mirrored,” said Sytra Mohammed.

“Gospel is another form of telling a story and our poetry does the same for us.”

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