Manchester Memorial Elementary School was filled with music last week Friday when a group through the Young Audiences of Massachusetts came to perform.  The show, “Clap Your Hands,” explores the rise and changing roles of music in the African American community: as a mental release during trying times, a vehicle for communication in the Underground Railroad, and a “common ground” during the Civil Rights Movement.

The program was sponsored by the Manchester Memorial School PTO.

The talented ensemble led by celebrated pianist and Berklee College of Music professor, George Russell, Jr., explored one of America’s most popular musical genres, by highlighting its various styles throughout history.  Russell and his group feature everything from the Thomas Dorsey spirituals of the 1930s to the 1960s hit “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.   All the students had fun learning about how African American music (spirituals, folk-blues, and gospel music) has profoundly influenced both musical and political movements throughout our nation’s history.

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