Concerts Open African-American History Month at EMU

P.R.O.O.F artists Ben Brickhouse (Brick) (r.) and Aijne Williams will perform at the Holy Hip-Hop Concert Feb. 2 at EMU.

“Unconditional” contemporary gospel group from New York City

African-American History Month observances at Eastern Mennonite University will open with two high energy concerts and a “soul food” buffet the weekend of Feb. 1-2.

Events will get under way with the eighth annual “Gospel Extravaganza” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in Lehman Auditorium at EMU.

Performing groups will include the JMU Contemporary Gospel Singers, the “Unconditional” contemporary gospel band from New York City, the Family Moats Singers from Staunton, the EMU Community of Praise Gospel Choir, dancer Lisa Henderson, soloist Frances White and others.

Admission to the program is free; a love-offering will be taken.

Lehman Auditorium at EMU will come alive 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, with the annual “Holy Hip-Hop Jam.”

Featured artists for the concert include a popular rap duo, P.R.O.O.F. from the multi-ethnic Calvary Community Church in Hampton, Va., the largest Mennonite congregation in the US with nearly 2,000 members.

P.R.O.O.F members Ben Brickhouse (Brick) and Aijne Williams began performing together the fall of 2004. Their stated purpose is “to show people whoat a life full of faith in and dependence on God can produce.” The duo has recorded an album, “The Great Awakening.”

The program headliner is Queens, N.Y., native Sean Slaughter, who gives over 100 concerts a year.

Slaughter uses hip-hop music to “speak life and to convey the timeless message of Jesus Christ.” His song, “Die Daily,” has received a Grammy nomination while another, “Narrow,” from the album, “The World is Not Enough,” is considered a hip-hop classic.

Concert tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and are available by calling the EMU box office, 540-432-4582 and will also be on sale at the door. Tickets can also be ordered on line.

Prior to the concert, the annual Soul Food Cafe, a full-course African American meal with special music by the gospel group “Unconditional” will be held starting at 5 p.m. in Martin Chapel of the seminary building. Cost is $15; tickets are available by calling the EMU box office, 540-432-4582.

A Showcase Vendor Event featuring African-American art, clothing, jewelry, literature and other items will take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Campus Center Greeting Hall. Vendors are coming from New York City, Maryland, Richmond, Staunton, Hampton and Harrisonburg.

“Glory” (rated R), will be shown 10 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Suter Science Center Auditorium. The film stars Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington and takes place during the Civil War. Admission to the film is free; no one under 17 will be admitted without an accompanying parent or guardian.

“Our theme for African-American History Month is ‘My Soul Looks Back in Wonder,’ from a book on the civil rights movement by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond,” said Melody Pannell, director of multicultural services at EMU. “Our goal is to reach out and unify the African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and international community of EMU students, alumni and the broader community, to celebrate our diversity, provide networking opportunities and strengthen one another through positive social and spiritual interaction,” she added.

For more information on the weekend activities, contact the multicultural services office at 540-432-4458.