African-American traditions in spotlight at Hibernian Hall and at City Hall Plaza
This weekend, Dorchester residents will be appearing in two musical productions, each of which celebrates different African-American traditions.
“Children of the Gods”
First up in Dudley Square, Hibernian Hall, in association with the Community Music Center of Boston, will be presenting an original work, “Children of the Gods: The Legend of Old Higue.” It’s the annual summertime musical showcase of Mssng Lnks, an organization that addresses the underrepresentation of singers-of-color in musical theater and classical vocal music with high-quality music education and performance opportunities for urban youth.
Mssng Lnks ensemble members from Dorchester include Edward Ayala, Shiesha Baker-Phillips, and Elizandra Lopes, while Lucile Lea Rezil hails from Mattapan.
Riding the current surge of vampire stories, Mssng Lnks Artistic Director Sam Martinborough evolved this show from some frightening folklore out of Guyana. Ol’ Higue is a witch who sheds her skin at night and crosses the dark skies in the form of a ball of fire seeking to suck the blood of babies and young children.
The ensemble have imagined and scripted an original story for this horrifying hag, interspersing their tale with musical mash-ups from a wide range of genres, including everything from opera to calypso, with lyrics “revamped” to suit this macabre myth.
Performances run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Gospelfest on the Plaza
At an even bigger event on Sunday, Dorchester will once again be representing at the 14th annual GospelFest on City Hall Plaza.
The program begins at 5 o’clock with a set by Anointed Biblical Scripture, a trio of female vocalists from Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Norfolk Street. Dot residents Mary Blake and Dixie Buford along with Roslindale’s Edna Wilkie have opened the past six editions of Gospelfest and appear regularly at such city events as the City Council’s Black History Month ceremonies and the 93rd birthday of the Strand Theatre.
Next up will be another perennial GospelFest favorite from Dorchester, Ayana McDonald, who has sung at such prestigious venues as Fenway Park and the Apollo Theatre. She started the Dot-based Epic Sound Music Academy in 2012, and serves as chief worship leader at the Mt. Olive Kingdom Builders Worship Center, also on Norfolk Street.
Around 6 p.m., a brand new tradition will start with the debut of the GospelFest Community Choir (GCC). Instead of being affiliated with a particular church group, GCC was formed after open auditions earlier this year. According to a press release, prospective members were promised the chance to “learn the history of gospel music, as well as share the stage with acclaimed artists.”
GCC is being directed Caitlin Banks, a Berklee grad who is also associated with the multimedia organization The Loft Sessions and the classical chamber choir Crepusculum.
Then comes the first of two guest artists, Byron Cage, a gospel recording artist with six albums, multiple Stellar Awards, and a Cosby Show appearance to his credit.
Finally, the headline act: JJ Hairton & Youthful Praise, an urban gospel group that will perform on City Hall Plaza after appearances with Destiny’s Child and on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.