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Singin’ Black and White: “A New Way Forward?”

Location: Oklahoma, USA
Choirs in Southwest North Carolina have long collaborated across social differences, hoping to diversify and grow our choirs and audiences, and to effect significant, positive social change.  After years of work, we had made little progress.
 
In April 2012, the Firebird Arts Alliance launched an innovative project that we believe will help us make more progress than ever before.  Singin’ Black and White now includes 11 choirs, with 350 singers, ages 15-65 and who are 46% black, 46% white and 8% “other.”  Singers come from all social and musical backgrounds.
 
Our “new way” requires Singing’ Black and White choir directors to work closely with professional community builders and social scientists to design all activities, in order to bridge social divisions and to sing together better.
 
The requirements to participate are daunting:  All SBW choirs agree to: a) participate perpetually - not just for a year or two; b) participate in 3 mandatory collaborations each year, including 2 major festivals; and c) devote at least ¼ of all activities to professionally facilitated dialogue about social division and music.
 
We are conducting sociological and physiological studies, as well as frequent participant surveys; we can be found at Facebook (Facebook.com/SinginBlackAndWhite) and YouTube (Youtube.com/user/davidjtang). 
SBW is actively recruiting choirs of other races, especially Asian and Latino ensembles, and are eager to continue our “new way forward.”