Mt. Vernon Middle School celebrated Black History Month with an annual live concert for eighth graders that featured a variety of genres including jazz, blues, rock, R&B, and contemporary/pop. The upbeat and engaging band played music written or performed by famous African-American artists. The band included Principal Benjamin Williams as the drummer/vocalist and Superintendent Dr. Parker made a guest appearance as a saxophonist (:57 min). The concert is always a big hit with the students.
Songs performed by the band were from influential African American artists, including
Prince, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Lenny Kravitz, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, and Sly & The Family Stone.
The band consisted of an all star lineup of local musicians. In addition to Principal Williams on drums and Superintendent Parker as a guest saxophonist, the keyboardist and lead vocals featured Allen Burke who has toured with the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and the Spinners. Burke is also a member of the Indiana Jazz Hall of Fame. Mt. Vernon Alumni and now Band Teacher in Zionsville, Chris Murray, joined the band on trumpet. Completing the band was local guitarist, Casey Harshbarger, TJam on vocals, Austin Shearer on Bass, and Josh Weirich on Saxophone. Several Mt. Vernon High School band members also made guest appearances to play a few songs with the band.
Mt. Vernon Middle School Principal, Mr. Benjamin Williams, stated, “Music can change the way people think. Music can change society. Music can change the world. Overall, the goal here is to take kids on a historical tour of music that has changed America for the better.”
The band will be performing the concert again for students at Mt. Vernon High School on Friday, February 28 at 1:30 p.m.