Chicago College of Performing Arts

The Center for Arts Leadership is a newly launched center for empowering students and alumni of the Chicago College of Performing Arts through experiential learning and growth opportunities in community engagement, social justice and career development.

United for Black Lives headshot poster

“United for Black Lives: A Benefit Concert for Black Lives Matter” by Marcela Ossa (BM Vocal Performance ’20)

As artists, we have a responsibility to use our craft to inspire people and inspire change. At first, I had created a concert called “United in Isolation” to benefit GlobalGiving and the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has become of greater importance that we stand firmly in support of our black communities, so we have decided to switch our focus to the Black Lives Matter Foundation. As explained on their About page,

“#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”

If you are struggling to find a way to support the movement, this concert is an excellent way to start. With this concert, you can discover music and poetry by African American composers and poets, as well as resources to educate yourself and donate

Society as it is has fueled the injustice of racism toward African Americans for decades. Recently, we witnessed a video of white police officers brutally and unjustly murder African American George Floyd as he pleaded for his life. As the now ex-police officers pinned him to the ground, he repeatedly called out for his mama and wheezed the words “I can’t breathe”. Most of America reacted to this event with disgust and anger and began to use their voices in protests that quickly spread, not only across the nation, but worldwide. According to Code Switch’s article via NPR, A Decade of Watching Black People Die

“Since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 black people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings; that doesn’t even include those who died in police custody or were killed using other methods.”

In The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings it states that,

“Although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.”

These killings have become so frequent that they eerily mirror each other in similarity. Enough is enough. The systematic racism in this country needs to be eliminated. White supremacy is deeply rooted in the blood that pumps through this country’s veins and as allies of our black communities, it is harmful to stay silent. We have to break our silence and use our voices to fight against injustice.

Not only will this concert benefit the Black Lives Matter movement with a fundraiser, but it will hopefully bring a sense of unity to our communities. The only way that change can happen is if we all work together toward a common goal.

The current events (including COVID-19 and the complete unveiling of systematic racism) have brought anger, frustration, isolation, loss of employment, and immense amounts of stress to people, but they have also brought to light the many changes we need to make in this country, and the importance of working together. As much as we crave to share art with people, people crave to experience it. Art is an underestimated outlet, and the loss of opportunities to experience live musical performances, museums, movie theaters, etc., has no doubt affected people’s well-being. Thankfully, we have the power of technology to help us reach people from all over the world with the click of a button. Not too long ago, I performed a little online Zoom concert for my family for Mother’s Day, and I was shocked at how many private messages I got telling me how much they were impacted by the opportunity to hear live music. It really came to my attention that we artists have the power to positively impact someone’s life and, in this case, help make a change.

Along with being an operatic soprano, I have a great love for poetry and believe in the power of words, so I decided to use art song and poetry as a theme for the concert’s program. I asked some of my talented friends if they were interested in performing for this crazy idea that I had, and I was thrilled at how many of them actually wanted to participate. The twelve artists performing for Friday’s concert are Aleksandar Reupert, bass/CCPA alumnus, Jacqueline Whittle, mezzo-soprano/CCPA alumni, Micah Gleason, mezzo-soprano/CCPA alumna, Tiffany Melvin, soprano/CCPA 2021, Joseph Goodale, baritone/SMU, Alix Rhode, musical theater/CCPA 2020, Abigail Grosch, mezzo-soprano/CCPA alumna, Marissa Howard, soprano/CCPA alumna, Scott Bass, countertenor/baritone/CCPA alumnus, Andreah Nicole Symington, soprano/U of St. Thomas, Claire Barber, mezzo-soprano/CCPA 2020, and myself, Marcela Ossa, soprano/CCPA 2020.

Please join my colleagues and I on June 12th at 7 PM CST from the comfort of your home as we perform this online benefit concert in support of black communities.

Here are some important links you will need:

Click to watch the concert on YouTube LIVE:

https://youtu.be/XdPlzbTsXqs

Help us reach our goal for BLM on our GoFundMe page:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/united-for-black-lives?teamInvite=lNZ5NSNPjhB9NRHR7kcj5FRESO61lNsR9pjpkEUzmKG2wwPXN98LIKuRb2DzK0ON

Facebook event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2328207183949115?active_tab=about

For more information on Black Lives Matter:

https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

*A donation is not required to enter the livestream, but even just one dollar will help, so please consider it if you can. Thank you.

"United for Black Lives" benefit concert poster

“United for Black Lives” benefit concert poster

Haley Henning • June 9, 2020


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