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BME Celebrates 36 Years of Soul Music

On Saturday, November 5, the BC Black Music Ensemble brought back the past through song in a celebration of original members and a 36 year history.

BME Homecoming Concert

The concert began as the aisles of the church filled with singers in flowing black robes as Kent Gilbert, Pastor of Union Church, said the opening prayer. "You will bring forth a radiance of music," he prayed. Berea College professor and founding member of the ensemble, Dr. Andrew Baskin, provided an introduction and history of the ensemble.

Songs were performed from the time of the founding of Berea College and then progressed into songs of the 1970's resent day. Director, Dr. Kathy Bullock came forth telling the audience, "If you leave here more lifted up, we have been successful."

Brooke Leeth, a BC graduate of 2005 and former BME member, found this homecoming concert to be just as she remembered. Leeth commented, "It's great to be able to come back and see that the ministry is still being brought forth."

The Black Music Ensemble also welcomed the Hairston Sisters as guest performers at the homecoming concert at Union Church. The six Hairston Sisters, Willene Hairston Moore (1970), Sue Hairston Jones (1972), Nancy Hairston Abasiekong (1974), Ann Hairston Hill (1974), Cynthia Hairston Hicks (1979)and Vivian Hairston Blade (1985) all graduated from Berea College and are alumni of the ensemble. Willene and Sue were original members of the then, Black Ensemble. "We are please and honored to be asked to come," said Sue Hairston Jones. "We're proud it's continued. There's a spirit of unity and praise," she said of the BME.

The Hairston Sisters radiated their pure voices through traditional hymns such as "Great is thy Faithfulness." The group also was presented with roses and deep gratitude from current BME members. The concert wrapped up with a culmination of current and past BME members singing "Glorious" accompanied by the Afro-Latin Drumming Ensemble.

The Black Music Ensemble was formed in 1969 by members of the Black Student Union so students would have an outlet to sing songs out of the African-American culture and faith. As the ensemble continues today, it is a major performing group in the Music Department. It is accredited and still maintains it's commitment to faith, sharing and community building using gospel and sacred music of the African-American tradition.

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