Choir cultivates spirit of peace and freedom with song

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 10:53am
  • Arts

Free Range Folk Choir (Courtesy Photo)

The Free Range Folk Choir will present an evening of songs chosen to cultivate the spirit of peace and freedom. The 70-member choir, under the direction of Shane Jewell, will perform works by composer Raymond Wise and Nigerian drummer Babtunde Olatunji at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Vashon High School theater.

Jazz pianist Thomas Pruiksma will accompany the choir for Wise’s two songs, “I’ve Got Love” and “No Matter What.”

According to a recent press release, the two songs “remind us how to seek the inner strength needed to go on when we are facing great hardship. The lyrics say, “I never found love ‘till I found peace, I never found peace ‘till I found joy, I never found joy ‘till I found music way down in my soul.”

The second piece featured in the performance will be the choral work, arranged by Jewell, based on Olatunji’s composition“Uhuru,” and accompanied by islander Gordy Ryan, a long-time member of Olatunji’s band, Drums of Passion. The choir first introduced the composition last November.

“Uhuru,” translates as “Freedom to the World Now” and epitomizes Olatunji’s world view. Sung in three languages, the piece represents the journey to freedom, beginning with the realization that we are not yet free. The second cycle represents the effort and struggle needed to achieve freedom. Finally, the third cycle is the realization that once freedom is gained it must be maintained each and every day.

Included in the press release was a quote by Buddhist monk Thich Nat Hanh that summarizes the intention of the performance: “Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice. … Real strength can be found not in power, money or weapons, but in deep, inner peace. When we have enough insight, we are not caught by many difficult situations anymore.”

This is a family-friendly show, and audience members will be invited to sing-along. Songs of freedom from South Africa and the U.S. civil rights movement will conclude the evening.

Suggested donations are $5 to $10 at the door. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

For more information, visit

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