St. Luke AME Church, 900 New York St., hosts a musical every February, but it isn’t the typical singing, acting and dancing you’d find in Rodgers and Hammerstein. This musical is a collaboration of performances by musical groups from the Lawrence and Kansas City area to commemorate Black History Month.
“It’s a celebration of black history (and) black heritage, but it’s very multicultural in that black, white, Native Americans, everyone feels welcome to come out,” says Joyce Pearson, chair of the musical planning committee.
Groups scheduled to perform at the Sunday, Feb. 24, event include Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church, Plymouth Congregational Church, the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church, Praise Temple Church of God in Christ, Christ Community Church, the Mighty Pleasant Tones and Voices Anointed.
“Each group plays or sings or performs two pieces,” Pearson says. “This year we will be featuring a lot of different groups.”
To find choirs to perform, St. Luke sends invitations to churches in the area, recruits from other African Methodist Episcopal churches, and invites groups whom they like after seeing a performance, which is how the Mighty Pleasant Tones became part of the program.
The musical will be an array of spiritual and classic gospels. The Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church will even sing a song in the group’s native language.
Pearson said one of the highlights of the show is when all of the participants come together and sing a song called “Lift Every Voice” to kick off the event.
“It’s really powerful when a whole group is singing one meaningful song together,” she says. “It’s very stirring.”
Pearson suggests guests arrive 30 minutes prior to the performance to get a seat because the church typically fills up to standing room only.
“Over the years we’ve always had a full house,” Pearson says. “We had the church fill up ... It’s very well attended.”
It’s been suggested that the program move to a larger location; however, members of the committee and church prefer to have it at St. Luke because of its history.
The musical is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at St. Luke AME Church and runs about 90 minutes. It is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted during the offering.