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Honoring MLK Jr. with song | Kitsap Week
For 15 years each January, Kitsap has burst out in song to remember one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders.
And Bainbridge Island is its loudspeaker.
“Songs may be hymns, spirituals, anthems, freedom songs, civil rights songs, often call and response,” said Jerry Elfendahl, an organizer with the annual Sing Out.
Sing Out began in 2000 when a group of Bainbridge islanders wanted to organize an event to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
“We also felt that we were long overdue to celebrate MLK Day as a day of helping people in need and building [on] King’s dream, and not a day off for playing in the snow,” Elfendahl said.
“We thought to explore community building through a broad sharing of the music that inspired the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And we thought we should create his ‘beloved community’ by hosting an event that brought folks together of all ages, ethnicities and faiths to sing together in harmony and share a meal together.”
The day-long celebration begins with a community workshop from 1-5 p.m. that will teach songs, choral dynamics and the history of the music. The workshop is under the direction of Pastor Patrinell Wright, famous for the Total Experience Gospel Choir that she leads.
The choir will perform at 7 p.m. with the audience singing along. In between the workshop, and the continuing spirit of the concert, Sing Out will host a dinner.
“We experience a workshop together and blending of harmonies, stories and fellowship,” Elfendahl said. “The concert is the culmination of and a part of the workshop.”
“We try to share the history of the songs that are sung. Singing any song, you should understand its truth,” he added.
Many of the songs are improvised. Elfendahl noted that a song could be 2 minutes one time, and 20 minutes another.
In the end, it’s all about honoring King and his legacy of creating a “beloved community.”
“The music may take us to places in the human heart we often seem too busy to visit,” he said.
Sing Out also supports local causes such as the Bainbridge School Foundation and Bremerton’s Marvin Williams Youth & Family Recreation Center Project.
Sing Out! on Bainbridge Island
When: Saturday, Jan. 25. Choir workshop 1-5 p.m.
Dinner at 5 p.m. Concert at 7 p.m.
Where: Filipino American Community Hall, 7566 NE High School Road, Bainbridge Island
Cost: Concert is $12 for adults, $8 for youth ages 12 and younger. Dinner is $12 adults, $8 youth. Workshop/dinner is $30 adults, $25 youth.
Info: www.singoutkitsap.org, 206-842-4164.
Organizers recommend that participants get tickets by Jan. 22.