BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo United Community Choir is connecting 52 churches and organizations throughout the western New York community — 120 neighbors standing side by side to sing together in harmony.
“Especially in times like these, to see people with different cultural backgrounds, different ethnicities, whatever, no matter the color of their skin, it’s all about what we’re coming together for, a common goal,” said George Brown, a director of the choir. “I think the common goal is unity and to have 120 voices only worried about music and representing the music in the right way. So, if we can touch one person, if we can touch a bunch of people on that night on the 27th, then we’ve done our job.”
Being a director of the choir is a ‘full circle’ moment in life for Brown, as he says he grew up in the church, and music has been his life. Now, he’s now working alongside two of his teachers, Ella Robinson and Karen Saxon.
“I did one musical one day and realized that not only can I play dress up for a living, and make money doing that, but that I could change someone’s life by the story I was telling about the song I was singing,” said Brown. “Music represents change, because if I can sing for someone or have my choir for someone, and it can change their day, their week, maybe bring a different moment to their life — music means so much and music can change lives, and that’s what we’re hoping to do on Friday.”
The choir was formed in January. They made their debut during Black History Month and also sang during a May 14th remembrance event at Johnnie B Wiley Sports Pavilion.
“Things could have gone one of two ways after 5/14. It could have segregated our city and our community even more, it could have hopefully brought everyone together, to not only realize that we can do this together but also realize that there’s still hatred out there in the world — that we all have to fight against,” said Brown. “On 5/14 and many times, it’s against people who look like me. But if we could all come together and fight hate — hate doesn’t see any color, hate doesn’t know a color — but if we could all come together to fight hate, I think that’s what needs to carry over in everyone’s lives.”
“I think this choir represents what can be if we all just agree to offer ourselves, unbiased to each other,” said Karen Saxon, director of Buffalo United Community Choir. “We have been together long enough to say, you know, what I just see is you. Yes, we have our differences, yes we do things — we have a variety of the way we do things, but at the core of it all, I’m your neighbor.”
The choir has been practicing once a week for the last two months to prepare for the concert, and the directors say the chorus is ready and excited to see the community come fill the seats of Kleinhan’s Music Hall.
“Just as the choir is various denominations and racial backgrounds, so will the audience. So, they will be the extension of that community and unity we’ve been working on,” said Saxon.
For the recital, A Gospel Symphony Celebration with Donald Lawrence, the choir will join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), vocalist Donald Lawrence, and conductor Dr. Henry Panion, lll onstage Friday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m.