January 21, 2009
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.
Letter #71: I Have a Dream-Come-True Concert
Greetings! I’m so STOKED right now! I just returned from a beautiful church service following a special presentation by my choir performing for nine staff members. The presentation was to coincide with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and has been planned since the middle of December when I helped the Spanish choir with their presentation. Today went so well—thank you for praying, those of you who knew about it ahead of time. God was glorified—let me tell you in what ways!
When we first began planning for the event, I was told that the chaplain was going to bring in some books on Dr. King so Trinity could write a little something to share in spoken word before the choir sang. I wrote to Michael and asked him to send me some MLK quotes, but since he was out of town, Mommy and Daddy took the initiative to have Daddy send me the quotes—pages of them; some short, some lengthy paragraphs that—SHOCKINGLY—showed a flawed doctrine. Leaving out the bad and keeping the good, I ended up with a healthy number of quotes. Michael wrote out a bunch for me, too, and between the two of them, I had nearly 40 usable statements. Sweet!
As our performance date grew closer, it was almost comical how many of our scheduled practices for the choir were cancelled. Once, some guy missed count, so they “recalled the yard”—everyone back to their cells (we were only five minutes into practice!); once, they were short on officers, so: yard recall; another scheduled practice was this last Friday, when everyone had to be inside while they went cell-to-cell, searching for extra laundry (no, I didn’t have any). 🙂 Realizing we had no time to practice, I wrote out the choir songs, including notations on when soloists were singing, repeats, volume, etc. I went over those notes with the choir just before we were called in today to perform, barely finishing in time!
I heard from Darryl, the choir director, that we still didn’t have the books on King from the chaplain, so I told him I’d write something. Well, last night, I wrote the three and a half pages of narration that I interspersed amongst the songs, similar to what we’d do as a quartet once upon a time. I didn’t want the AWKWARD pauses and stilted (cheesy) novice performance that the poor Spanish choir had unfortunately done, due to lack of planning by someone with any stage experience. (Thus, it detracted heavily from the otherwise decent music.) I tied in the King quotes with Scripture and Biblical principles and related them to each of our songs.
We had four choir numbers, three soloists with choir, and three solos, ten songs in all. I had Trinity and a brother named Mark, who has darker skin than Trinity, read the narrative parts. I’d “mock-performed” the entire thing by myself this morning, and it came out to a perfect 45 minutes—our allotted time—then, I handed it to Trinity a few moments beforehand, so he and Mark had time to read through it a couple of times.
Due to the lack of practice, we only cut one choir song we’d tried that is frankly far too aggressive for the choir at this point anyway. Additionally, I showed “Deacon” how to riff on “Bless the Lord, O My Soul,” I practiced with John on “Above All,” the Michael W. Smith song, which he soloed on (and I harmonized on the chorus: “Crucified, laid behind a stone; You lived to die, rejected and alone. Like a rose, trampled on the ground, You took the fall, and thought of me, above all!”), I put together an ensemble singing, “As the Deer,” consisting of the choir members who didn’t get a solo, and I wrote an arrangement blending “America the Beautiful” with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to close out the production.
Well, everything was extremely well received, and all the guys did a great job. Bill sang his solo humbly, John sang confidently, and I was just super proud of how well they all did. The head of “Arts in Corrections” was impressed. She told me we’ll definitely be doing more of this kind of thing in the future. Cool! Thank you for helping me with it!
Well, that’s about it. Please pray for Mike. His cellie is giving him a horrible time—very stressful. Kuzmicz is planning to move him this weekend, Lord willing.
I love you all and I’m grateful for your love, prayers, and support. You partake in my blessings!