As the only gospel group on campus, Voices of Imani took the opportunity to present a breadth of musical expression that took took the audience on an emotional, melodic journey Saturday night. They stuck to the roots of the club, which was started in 1977 by a group of students who wanted to create a music group on campus where they could come together, express their faith, and celebrate the rich tradition found in the black worship experience.
Starting off with the uplifting “Troubles Don’t Last Always,” Voices of Imani continued to build up the energy at the beginning of the show by moving on to “Looking For You” and “Love You Like That.” The latter had one of the strongest solos of the concert, by freshman member Bryan Paula, MCAS ’19—quite a compliment given that this concert was filled with excellent solos.
From these spirited pieces, the group moved on to the jazzy “Unbelievable.” This was an interesting piece that switched up the entire energy of the concert. They continued on this trend as they smoothly transitioning into “Peace and Love Medley,” an original composed by the Voices’ own Jessica Stephens, MCAS ’17. This was a wonderful piece and an impressive display of Stephens’ talent. The music and lyrics were perfectly matched. It even had a great rap solo, which Stephens delivered. The next medley, “Change the World” built on the haunting undertones of the previous song, pulling on the audience’s emotions.
The medley “Blackbird/Fly” slowly transitioned into an upbeat anthem. This piece served as great way to bring back the energy from the beginning of the show and then increase it even more. By the time it ended, most of the audience was on its feet, swaying and clapping along. This piece also featured wonderful solos by Paula Assou, MCAS ’18, and Chloe Fasanmi, MCAS ’18, as well as free-style solos by the trumpet and saxophone players. With such a strong showing, Voices could have easily ended the show right then and there. They had one more surprise, however, in store for the audience—a cover of “Ultralight Beam” from Kanye’s Life of Pablo. Despite the short time they had to prepare this piece, it was definitely the highlight of the show. It was an expertly arranged piece that had wonderful solos by Levi Pells, MCAS ’16, Eva Frimpong, MCAS ’18, Jacquelyn Andalcio, LSOE ’17, Paula, and Stephens. With this piece, Voices showed that they had been saving the best for last.
Perhaps the finest strength of Voices of Imani is the sheer amount of energy its members bring to the stage. Each singer looks so engaged and moved by the music. It makes it difficult for the audience to remain disengaged. Furthermore, the large number of soloists was a great component to the event. Each performer was dynamic, with a unique presence and style on stage. It is also important to take a moment to compliment David Altenor, BC ’09, and the current director of Voices of Imani. He played an integral part in transferring the energy on the stage to the audience, pushing us to chime in if we knew the words. Near the beginning of the show, he led a back and forth between the audience and the performers, which focused the show’s energy and capture the audience’s attention.
The only problem with the show was that unfortunately, despite efforts to fix the microphones, the band often overpowered the choir. Though the venue may have made this impossible to change, it hurt the overall experience because it was at times difficult to hear the choir well. This was especially evident with the “Change the World” medley, which had another great solo, but unfortunately the choir was almost inaudible over the band.
The silver lining, however, is that the band was consistently spot on. Despite the technical issues, Voices of Imani was able to create a fun, engaging environment—one perfect for a beautiful Saturday afternoon concert in the courtyard outside O’Neill Library.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor