On January 15, 2018, NEWorks again partnered with Georgetown University and The Kennedy Center to music-direct 'Let Freedom Ring,' the annual concert celebration honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year's program featureed Grammy® and Tony®–nominated performer Vanessa Williams,acclaimed Gospel recording artist Phillip Carter, internationally-acclaimed tap dance artist Cartier Williams, and the Let Freedom Ring Choir led by Nolan Williams Jr., LFR Music Director and CEO of NEWorks Productions.
I've been to the mountaintop
Seen the Promised Land
Though I may not
Live to get there with you
Don't you stop
Till, as a people,
We get to the Promised Land.
(Copyright, Nolan Williams, Jr.)
NEWorks Kicks-off 15th Anniversary Year with Music Direction of 'Let Freedom Ring' MLK Birthday Concert at the Kennedy Center
As part of the program, Georgetown University presented the 16th Annual John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award to Steve Park, Executive Director and Founder of Little Lights Urban Ministries. The annual award is given by Georgetown to an international or local individual who exemplifies the spirit of Dr. King. Little Lights works with families living in the Potomac Gardens, Hopkins, and Benning Terrace public housing communities, providing a diverse range of programs focused on academic, spiritual, and economic empowerment, as well as racial justice.
The show's opening number was the world premier of a new song by Nolan Williams, Jr. commissioned by Georgetown University. The Promised Land (Someday) is inspired by Dr, King's last public speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," delivered at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968, the night before his untimely assassination. The piece longs for the day when America will realize its full potential of equal rights and equal opportunities for all. The verses lift three primary themes from the speech: a call to unity, a recognition that the time for action is now, and a plea to avoid distractions that shift attention away from the social justice agenda. The song refrain adapts the closing words of King's iconic address as a call to action to each successive generation:
PICTURED: The 2018 Let Freedom Ring Celebration Choir, LFR Music Director Nolan Williams, Jr. with Vanessa Williams, Georgetown University student actors
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PHOTO CREDITS: K. DuBose for NEWorks Productions ▪ Billy Heart for NEWorks Productions ▪ DerekBrad Photography ▪ Nathea Lee, PhotoBravura ▪ Jordan August ▪
Mel Epps ▪ Courtesy of the Mann Center for the Performing Arts ▪ Courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ▪ Courtesy of Vital Voices