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MSU College of Music jazz concert commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., marks 40th anniversary of his assassination

Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest (two free performances)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University’s College of Music will present two free jazz performances entitled Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest, on Sunday, January 20, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre. The theme of the 2008 annual concert will be “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and will honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The concert will feature MSU Jazz Orchestra I (The Be-Bop Spartans) performing excerpts from Duke Ellington’s “New Orleans Suite.” A local gospel group, Sisters in Praise, will also perform gospel and spiritual favorites. Guest speakers from the community and MSU campus will provide commentary and present excerpts from some of King’s speeches.

“This concert is about bringing to light the work that Dr. King was doing in 1968: speaking against the war in Vietnam and his campaign against poverty,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of MSU jazz studies. “Here we are, 40 years later, still dealing with extreme poverty like what we saw in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and our country is involved in another unpopular war. It seems like we’ve still got a long way to go toward fighting poverty and attaining world peace.”

This event is general admission. Tickets are free, but are required and can be picked up at the Wharton Center Box Office only. Donations are welcome at the concert to benefit the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Endowed Scholarships.

Other Info: This concert is co-sponsored by the MSU College of Music and the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. It is part of Michigan State University’s 28th annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Exploring Civil Rights through Art and Culture.” The year 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For information on all MSU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration events, visit

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