Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement: The Power of Song
This year’s productions of Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement: The Power of Song again drew largely sold out crowds to the Palladium Theater over the three performances at the 850-seat auditorium and about 1,000 at the Alex Theater in Glendale, Calif. With roughly 200 cast members participating in the two states, the total participation included about 4,000 people.
The production received rave reviews from audiences. The Florida audiences were given the most comprehensive survey The Power of Song Inc. has conducted. In the comments section of the survey, many respondents simply stated, “extraordinary,” “I loved it all!!!” “All A++” and “Everything was awesome. I loved it, again.”
Some critical remarks, included three comments that it “could be shorter,” with one person noting that the preliminaries delayed getting to the production too long. Others thought we should be charging for it.
Additional details about the survey can be found later in the report. Some particular highlights from the 2018 production included the addition of a cold start with the song “What the World Needs Now,” which many praised. We added a scene in Florida that we first performed in the California about the Japanese American internment that the audience members found enlightening.
The Power of Song Music Contest saw a 33 percent increase in participation for this year’s event. Marketing and Promotion The production received strong support from local media with interviews with anchor Al Reuschel at Bay News 9, on Radio Active with Rob Lorei at WMNF radio and in print at the Weekly Challenger, which included photos and videos from the production.
Boyzell Hosey, an assistant managing editor at the Tampa Bay Times, ran the production on Facebook Live and drew
hundreds of viewers to the performance. About 30 t-shirts and hoodies became a hot commodity at the production, which indicated that there is a great deal of excitement and buzz around the event, and additional ones have been purchased. This media support proved critical as the early start to the King holiday events immediately after the New Year was difficult for many of the organizations, institutions and individuals involved.
But the effort also meant new partnerships, including community members who provided a Sunday brunch for some of the out of town performers on a stationary boat in Vinoy marina. The added gift inspired the performers as they prepared to deliver the production.As part of the weekend, local businessman Mario Farias organized the brunch for a couple dozen cast members aboard a historic ship.
The success of the production in St. Petersburg has drawn increased interest in California, as The Power of Song Inc. brought the production to stage for the second year in Southern California at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. With support from Fuller Theological Seminary and Montrose Church, the production proved a hit with the West Coast audience. The California production featured “Peaches” from the 70’s hit group “Peaches and Herb,” known for the songs “Shake Your Groove Thing” and “Reunited.”
For the first time, The Power of Song worked with the Harambe Kid’s Choir from Pasadena, Calif., a group that performed the children’s choir segment.
A philanthropist from Japan has proposed bringing the production to Tokyo in 2020. We are very proud of the project that was born out of the MLK Day of Service Advisory Board and St. Petersburg College and led by Sen. Darryl Rouson in Tallahassee.