By Shannon Weisbrod, Contributing Writer
“It is not the color of your skin but the content of your character.” These words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and on Jan. 24 these words were brought back to life by Vy Higginsen and the sing Harlem choir.
An event that was put together by Dena Salerno, the assistant dean for diversity and inclusion on campus. Salerno calls this event, the launch into the week of remembrance for Martin Luther King that would bring students and faculty together.
This event helped keep the students unified into the following event where is- sues of race and power were discussed and the unity of students was present and they were interested to learn.
Salerno says, she found out about the choir through Mary Markle, the administrative assistant in the leadership and engagement office, who saw them perform and was blown away by their talent. Salerno then called them and since most of the kids are in high school they were thrilled to be visiting a college campus.
This event was powerful and most importantly taught everyone how to love one another for who they are. With opening words from President Green and the Chaplin, the audience learned this was going to be a night they would never forget.
When Vy Higginsen took the stage, she looked into the crowd with a smile and the excitement to be here was gleaming in her words. She talked to everyone about why she started the choir and how she wanted to give kids the chance to have an amazing life through the power of music.
Higginsen told the audience about all that gospel music was for her, a saving grace for herself and the amazing kids in her choir.
The night began when she had everyone in the audience warming up with breathing exercises and stomping our hands and feet just like we were kids again. From that moment on, the audience was hooked by participating in the routine and could not wait to see what the rest of the night had to offer.
The music master, came out to sing a song to kick off the night and in that song, was a quote, “How could anyone tell you that you’re anything less than beautiful.”
This lyric was alone so powerful, this had you thinking, if this was already so moving and strong, I can’t imagine what the rest of the night had in store. The choir walks on the stage, and the kids were in their teenage years looking out to the crowd. In those few moments of silence you wondered what those voices were going to sound like. Just then, it hits you like a train, and they start to sing and you are blown away by the joy that lights up on their faces when they begin to perform.
You find yourself clapping along and wanting to dance along with the kids. Salerno says she felt the audience become one around mid-performance and saw these people from diverse backgrounds and religions just enjoying the moment and putting their hearts into the music.
The members of the choir were able to get the audience involved, making them laugh, cry, and sing along to all the songs. They ended the night with the song “Let It Shine”. This song led to them jumping into the audience and getting everyone involved. Higginsen dancing around the isle taking in all the wonder and magic that she saw within the community that was there.
The Vy Higginsen Sing Harlem choir was a show that brought beauty, love, and inspiration to the campus of Susquehanna that will last a lifetime.