Hymn To Freedom

Since 1995 Black History month was recognised in Canada and it awakened and uncovered the fact that many stories about the Black communities in Canada exist but their history was not well known. Our project aims to help remedy that as well as recognize and celebrate the legacy of Canadian icon, jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson and his work ‘Hymn to Freedom.’ This song is internationally known and was used in the sixties as an inspiration for the civil rights movement in the United States. It would therefore be fitting if this Canadian icon’s work is used to identify our Black History Month (BHM).

To date, Canadians have used the American anthem ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ (Google the Balm in Gilead version) to celebrate Black History month. ‘Hymn To Freedom’ will be re-arranged and conducted by Corey Butler, Artistic Director, Zamar Music Productions Inc.

Pictorial images and visuals drawn from, and highlights of historical segments of Canadian Black History, will be featured on a screen as the hymn is being sung by a joint choir in the background. This will be produced as a video. Images including Mathieu DaCosta, the Underground Railroad, Lincoln Alexander, Michaelle Jean and much in between from Coast to Coast.

The Hymn to Freedom project will help to unify and unite the fragmented stories and geographically isolated pieces/pockets of black history across the Canadian diaspora. This song and it’s visuals will provide a glimpse into the black experience and it’s many stories and rich heritage roots. e.g. it will link the Alberta settlements, the Underground Railroad sites in Ontario and Nova Scotia’s Africville.

The purpose of this presentation is,
to make aware, remind and educate all Canadians now and in the future of the importance of the past and the hope for the future
become the preferred anthem to herald and acknowledge Black History Month(BHM)and BHM events in places such as schools and churches
increase the cultural appreciation of Black heritage as it intertwines into the art activities of all cultures
serve as a permanent archive.
enhance the self esteem of Black youth throughout the Diaspora as they recognize and develop a heightened cultural appreciation of the historical contribution of their ancestors and as they see themselves reflected within the cultural mosaic
elevate and dignify the contributions of Canadians
encourage exhibitions, plays, musical performances, all festivals, theatrical productions, speaking events, films, community groups and other cultures to use this medium throughout the year and especially during BHM
encourage future leaders and artistes to produce works in all art forms.
serve to memorialize, appreciate and celebrate the legacy and work of the universally acclaimed Canadian musical icon, Mr. Oscar Peterson.

Planning committee:
Kelly Peterson……. wife of the late Oscar Peterson (supporter)
Oliver Jones……Canadian Jazz Pianist…………………….(supporter)
Hon. Jean Augustine, P.C.,C.M.,O.Ont., C.B.E.
Dr. Carol Duncan, Prof. WLU Dept. Religion & Culture (supporter)
Dr.Lee Willingham, Dir. of Community Music Prog. WLU
Earl McCluskie, Chestnut Hall Music Producer….Videographer
Corey Butler, Music Arranger & Conductor
Mark Church, WLU. Entrepreneur
Dr. James Walker, Dept. of History, U.Waterloo
Lisbeth Haddad M.A. Res. Of Waterloo
Laferne Clarke, .Social Work.MA..
Lucia Harrison, CEO K-W Multicultural Centre,
Marcia Smellie, Retired Secondary School Teacher
Lauris DaCosta, Coordinator….Past Pres. CCAWR., Retired R.N.,PHN.,B.N.
(CCAWR…Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region)

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