“Juneteenth: An American Celebration” A Virtual Choral Celebration of The Heritage Ensemble By Sharon Samuels Reed, Founder and Artistic Director

Sharon Samuels Reed, Founder and Artistic Director

On June 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm CST, The Heritage Ensemble will be in virtual concert as we present another gift of a free community concert celebrating 22 years of choral excellence in this community and beyond.

The Heritage Ensemble hosts two major concerts each year as a part of our ICC subscription series—The Martin Luther King, Jr. Choral Celebration and Juneteenth: An American Celebration for Juneteenth. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed in 1863. However, the enslaved people in Texas did not find out until June 19, 1865—thus Juneteenth. Over the years, this momentous day has been called Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Jubilation Day. Over the years, Juneteenth has been celebrated with political rallies, encouraging voter education and registration, festivals celebrating academic achievement, picnics, encouraging community unity, to name a few. These celebrations, traditionally celebrated in the South, have grown across the nation.

As a native Texan, moving here as an educator in 1972, I quickly noticed some of the cultural norms that we celebrated with pride and purpose in the South were not celebrated with that same educational purpose here. These celebrations became a purpose for me as educational opportunities. That purpose to provide pride filled, dignified, and purposeful celebrations of particular significance to the African American community became a mission for me. Surrounded with like-minded people, eventually, The Heritage Ensemble was born, providing this community with the longest continuous Juneteenth celebration, beginning in 2000. The Heritage Ensemble’s mission “…to tear down walls and to build bridges between all people” is accomplished through “edutainment” – educating while entertaining.

With each concert, we embrace the opportunity to take our audiences on a journey through slavery, emancipation, and beyond with the beautiful melodies conceived out of the belly of the Antebellum enslaved people, those who migrated after they were “freed” and created gospel music, the birth of the blues and jazz, to contemporary music. This concert will take you on another meaningful journey through beautiful music but will focus on celebrating The Heritage Ensemble and its impact on the community. We have a rich 22-year history that we will share through various genres of music, readings, and singing the music born long ago and is still relevant today. We will share how our existence continues to have a significant impact as we continue to close the cultural void in this community and region. The Heritage Ensemble is the only known choral ensemble in the state that specializes in the Negro spiritual, earning the distinction of being called “the authentic voice of the Negro Spiritual.”

Thank you for your continued support as we preserve, promote, perform, and educate through African American music.

Join us via our website, heritageensemble.com, YouTube, or Facebook on Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm CST. Together we will celebrate Juneteenth: An American Celebration with our family and friends across the nation!