During spring break, Essence of Joy is traveling south to tour high schools and churches. We will be performing in Charlotte, Atlanta, Delray Beach, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Jacksonville, Charleston, Savannah, and Raleigh. I’m really looking forward to going to a place that is (hopefully) a little warmer and less windy than State College, but I’m also looking forward to the many experiences that I’m sure will be eye-opening.
One of the places that I am most looking forward to performing at is in Atlanta, GA. Essence will be performing at the morning church services at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
At the age of 19, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist and was subsequently ordained as a minister. In 1960 he became a co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist alongside his father. He remained a co-pastor of the church until his death. Dr. King’s funeral was also held at Ebenezer Baptist, and the National Park Service considers the church to be a national historic landmark.
The church is a significant spiritual landmark and has been extremely influential in both commemorating the civil rights movement and in continuing the effort for equality. In 2008, before he was elected, President Obama visited and spoke at Ebenezer Baptist, where he joined the congregation in singing “We Shall Overcome.” (pictured below)
I think that it is extremely special that Essence has been given the chance to perform at this sacred place, not because of the building, but because of the people and events that it has played host to.
Going south will be a very interesting experience because the audiences there will be far different than the ones that we normally perform for. In some ways I expect our music to be less accepted in the south than it is in Pennsylvania, but I could be very wrong about that. I’m looking forward to finding out, and it being a little warmer.