Chicago Children's Choir Celebrates Black History Month

Lisa Fielding
February 10, 2020 - 1:55 pm
Thousands of young singers celebrated Black History Month on Monday at the Chicago Symphony Center.

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Songs of celebration from Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, and Curtis Mayfield filled the air at Symphony Center as the Chicago Children's Choir marked Black History Month.

"Today we are celebrating Black History Month. This year's theme is African Americans and the vote," said Josephine Lee, President, Artistic Director.

The Black History Month concert series has been a tradition for more than 30 years.

"Our program evolves with the times, but we respect our past. We honor composers who were part of the struggle and who are still composing today and making a difference," Lee said.

More than 4,000 singers from Chicago Children’s Choir’s In-School program will be singing over the course of three days.

Lee said in some cases, the choir’s program is the only arts education offered to students within the school.

"We believe the arts is a basic human right. Every child has a voice and we want them to have the opportunity to come on common ground to celebrate and converse, strive for excellence and collaborate. They learn these life transferable skills and that's so important for young people to express themselves, a place for them to feel safe, a place they can learn about culture, learn to sing in 37 languages, travel nationally and aboard an showing the world that Chicago is one of the most culturally rich cities in the country," Lee said.

Thousands of young singers celebrated Black History Month on Monday at the Chicago Symphony Center.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

The Chicago Children’s Choir began in Hyde Park in 1956 as a social action to the Civil Rights movement.

Eighty percent of youth served are from low-moderate income homes, they represent 100 schools, with over 4,000 students annually participating completely free of charge. Many In-School singers join one of the Choir’s 11 after-school neighborhood programs.

"These students come together. In this segregated city, as everyone likes to say, we are a place where young people can come together on common ground and celebrate their differences," Lee said.

Josephine Lee, President, Artistic Director of Chicago Children's Choir
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

The Children's Choir also includes the "Young Male Ensemble" and the world renowned "Voice of Chicago" which is made up of 100 singers ages 13-18 who travel internationally.

CCC has impacted the lives of more than 50,000 diverse youth throughout its 62-year history. Since its founding, CCC has focused on building programs that reflect the racial and economic diversity of Chicago. All singers in CCC programs receive some level of subsidy. High school seniors enrolled in CCC have a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate, becoming global ambassadors who carry on CCC’s core values in a wide array of professional fields.

Thousands of young singers celebrated Black History Month on Monday at the Chicago Symphony Center.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Lee said CCC is much more than a choir, it's a positive path for Chicago's youth.

"It's about creating a platform for young people to experience the world, not only on a local, but a global stage," she said.

The three-day Black History Month concert series continues through Wednesday and will feature the Choir’s world-renowned Voice of Chicago performance ensemble, along with thousands enrolled in the Chicago Children’s Choir In-School program.

The event is the second largest event, next to the "Paint the Town Red' event at Pritzker Pavillion on May 21.