February 18, 2022 - 12:56pm
Students, staff, and community members gathered at the Brownstone Center of the Arts last Friday for an extraordinary evening of history and music.
Dr. Jeffrey Murdock, who was the 2021 GRAMMY Educator of the Year, presented “A Journey Through Black Music” featuring both lecture and musical examples performed with him playing piano and singing.
His presentation was an incredible example of the power Black History Month programming can have. The first portion of the evening had Murdock speaking about different time periods of Black music in American history. The second half had dozens of young men and women join him on the stage.
The journey through time started with the spirituals sung by slaves in the fields. Songs such as “Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot” and “Go Down, Moses” that seemed religious to the slave masters, but really contained coded messages for the Underground Railroad.
The audience was then taken through a jump in time post slavery to the Harlem Renaissance, the growth of artistic output centered in Harlem, N.Y. between the end of World War I and the mid-1930s. Some of the work of the musicians and poets was taken and used without credit while others remained as it was unique to the plight they faced.
Sometimes the songs tackled uncomfortable topics such as the 1950s Billie Holiday piece, “Strange Fruit.”
The Black Church was discussed at is served as a place of refuge for the community. Each church has its own approach to the music, often putting their own spin on the same songs. They always contained the overarching theme of Christ’s love.
Songs like “Turn Me Around” and “We Who Believe in Freedom” were sung when calling attention to civil rights. Instead of covert messages, the songs were more overt in their messaging.
Yet, joy remained in Black music with songs like “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder released in the early 1970s. And songs like “Glory” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” are songs sung in the name of continued pursuit of equality.
GOSPEL MUSIC IMMERSION
After his official presentation, Murdock was joined on stage by the PRCC Singers and the East Marion Gospel Choir. The students spent several hours that day preparing for the event and gave amazing performances.
At times, Murdock encouraged the audience to “join the choir” with many enthusiastically belting out the lyrics taught in a call and response style. This included the initial piece, “Just Want to Praise You Forever.”
Pieces by Richard Smallwood with a more classical feel for the piano accompaniment that were sung included “His Mercy Endureth Forever” and “Total Praise.” “All in His Hands” and “Goin' up Yonder” were among the other selections for the evening.
ABOUT DR. JEFFREY MURDOCK
Murdock is internationally known as a conductor, clinician, and skilled gospel musician. He currently serves as Associate Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Arkansas. He is the 2016 Connor Endowed Faculty Fellow in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Science, and 2019 Most Outstanding Faculty at the University of Arkansas. He is the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year.
Murdock has conducted regional and state honor choirs, and headlined conferences in 26 states and 5 countries. His research interests include Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in the Choral Classroom, Music in Urban Schools, and Social Justice in Music Education.
Murdock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, both from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Music Education from the University of Memphis.
February 18, 2022 - 3:53pm
Pearl River Community College’s campuses were busier than normal this week with more than 800 students from 12 area high schools visiting PRCC’s Forrest County and Poplarville locations. The focus was on Career Technical Education and Allied Health programs and how the students could potentially find their dream profession in one of those programs.
Students were greeted with a warm welcome onto campus with music and dancing compliments of the Pearl River Pep Band, W.C. Rivers, and the 2022 UCA National Champions PRCC Cheerleaders.
Students selected two programs that most interested them from the 19 CTE and 11 Allied Health programs available during the visit. Lead instructors for the highlighted programs shared information around what they would learn as well as potential career opportunities after graduation.
Several of the programs went well beyond, talking and demonstrating equipment students get to use while earning their certificate or degree. Allied Health students witnessed the “real-life” simulation of an emergency event and how a patient is successfully treated within the new Simulation lab on the Forrest County Campus. Sparks were flying as students watched welding in progress.
They had the opportunity to take walking tours of each campus and speak with Recruiters about scheduling private tours in the future. On the Poplarville campus, they were also able to see the dorm options up close.
For some of the visiting students, attending PRCC will be the next step in their educational career.
Kiln resident Paige Easterling currently attends Hancock High School where she is involved in the polymer science career tech pathway. She plans to attend PRCC in the fall and was visiting both the Electronics Technology and Business Marketing & Management Technology programs.
Another Hancock High School student, Levy Aidan, came to see what it will be like when he begins the Drafting and Design program this fall. The Bay St. Louis resident has already been taking classes in the field and plans to eventually pursue a degree in architecture.
Prospective Wildcats interested in visiting any of PRCC’s campuses for a tour can call The Office of Recruitment at (601)403-1197 or email email@example.com.