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Project Humanities to showcase American music Sept. 17 at ASU

Two musicians
September 15, 2011

Diverse American music selections, including gospel, rock and barbershop, will be performed by local musicians and singers from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 17, at ASU’s Tempe campus. Project Humanities at ASU will present this special series of performances and conversations, titled “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” in the Old Main Carson Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

“The sheer range of musical talent on tap for Saturday's celebration of American music forms is quite stunning, and it's all local talent,” said Neal Lester coordinator of Project Humanities and dean of humanities in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Too often, we imagine the best talent being somewhere else, and we are fortunate to have international champion barbershop groups right here in the Valley sharing their music and helping us tease out what makes American music ’American,’” he said.

The artists include the Scottsdale Chorus; the barbershop quartet Audacity; two gospel groups, Redeemed and The McHenry Singers; and Terry Hummer and Billy Cioffi combining rock and poetry as AmeriCamera.

Lester noted that the diversity of the performers involved is an important element of the event. “Indeed, the afternoon intends to get at that very point – to bring diverse audiences together who wouldn't ordinarily be in the same space to witness the aspects of human expression through music that connects and affects us often in very profound and unexplainable ways,” he said. ”The hope as well is to interrogate how region, gender, race, economics, and even sexuality play out in American music forms.”

Parking to this event is free in the ASU Fulton Center parking structure at the northeast corner of College Avenue and University Drive, across the street from Old Main. Saturday afternoon’s performance concludes a week of events to kick off the fall schedule for Project Humanities at ASU. Information about future events on all four ASU campuses and at neighborhood venues is online at

Below is information about Saturday’s performers.

The Scottsdale Chorus takes familiar melodies, blends in three parts of close harmony, and adds innovative choreography and glittering costumes to deliver barbershop-style arrangements. More than 100 women from cities across Arizona bring their musical passion and energy to the stage under the direction of Lori Lyford. The chorus earned its fourth gold medal at the Sweet Adelines International Chorus Competition in October 2010 and has ranked third place or higher in each of the 15 international competitions in which it has competed since 1975.

Audacity is a Phoenix area barbershop quartet whose easy musical style and warm, full sound helped win the 2009 international seniors quartet championship. Formed in 2007, the group consists of tenor John Fynmore of Phoenix, lead singer Byron Bennett of Mesa, baritone Fraser Brown of Phoenix, and bass Greg Dodge of Tempe, all long-time members of the Greater Phoenix Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Redeemed is a quintet of female gospel singers that was formed in 2004. Since then, members of the vocalist group have opened for various performances in the Phoenix area. The group specializes in Christian ministry through the use of contemporary gospel music.

The family group, The McHenry Singers, was officially formed in Phoenix in 2009. Albert and Annette McHenry, their daughters Joan Sherwood and Janet Parker, and Marc Parker sing traditional gospel and spiritual songs with piano accompaniment from Mary Francis Clay. In November 2010, the group released its first album, “Of Thee I Sing.”

The group AmeriCamera is comprised of Terry Hummer, an ASU English professor and musician, and Billy Cioffi, a musician and writer. The AmeriCamera Project deals with multiple arts including poetry, prose, music and photography. Hummer, a poet and saxophonist, combines his creative talents with Cioffi, a musician, composer and stage director who is pursuing a master’s degree in English literature. For “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” AmeriCamera will present a combination of poetry and rock.

Saturday’s multi-faceted concert and conversation will be moderated by two ASU faculty members: Matthew Whitaker, a history professor and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, and Richard Mook, an assistant professor in the School of Music in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Written by Evan Lewis.

Carol Hughes,
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences