Forty students and faculty members from Morehouse College Glee Club in Atlanta, United States (US) will be visiting Nigeria for a three-city tour and cultural exploration of the country’s rich music heritage.
The planned visit billed to take place from June 26, 2022, which would come to an end in July 9, 2022, is the United States way of strengthening the growing US-Nigeria cultural and people-to-people ties through music, arts and film.
In a statement by Information Specialist, Public Affairs Section (PAS), US Consulate General, Temitayo Famutimi, made available to The Guardian, the two weeks visit would bring diverse people together and create space for discussion and exchange.
Famutimi said the Morehouse College Glee Club, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary with its first tour in Nigeria, would offer public concerts in Lagos, Abuja and Enugu, saying the group would visit universities and high schools in Nigeria as well as meeting Nigerian students to explore their historical ties to Nigeria.
US Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, said the visit would strengthen the longstanding ties between American and Nigerian institutions of higher learning, and would further expand the scope of academic and cultural relations between the US and Nigeria.
According to her, cultural exchanges such as the upcoming visit of the Morehouse College Glee Club would contribute to strengthening the bonds of friendship and collaboration through music and arts, and offering an opportunity for Nigerian students to learn about academic experiences in the United States.
The Ambassador said many of students of the Morehouse College Glee Club have described their upcoming visit to Nigeria as an opportunity to connect with their African roots.
“I love the culture of Nigeria,” 19-year-old Schneider Grandpierre, a junior third-year student of Music and Computer Science at the Morehouse College said of the upcoming trip.
“It is going to be such an enriching and amazing experience to be able to reconnect with our cultural roots and sing Nigerian music in different languages. I look forward to an extended stay here even after this tour, ” Grandpierre enthused.
Also, expressing his excitement about the visit, 23-year-old John Batey, a Business Administration major and tenor singer for the choral group said he has been able to trace his roots to Nigeria through a DNA test.
“We will be exploring the Nigerian creative and entertainment industry. I am excited about the upcoming tour,” Batey said.
However, Director of the Morehouse College Glee Club, Prof. David Morrow, explained that the choral group would perform a repertoire of African and American songs particularly African-American spirituals, which have roots in West African music traditions.
Morrow noted that the Morehouse College Glee Club is rooted in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, saying that Dr. King who sang in the Morehouse College Glee Club was one of the notable alumni of the Historically Black College in the United States.
“The 1972 visit to Nigeria infused African music into the Glee Club’s tradition and American Choral music in general. Fifty years later, choirs across the United States sing in Nigerian languages, highlighting the long-term impact of that exchange.
“The Morehouse College Glee Club has since learned a variety of songs in Edo, Yorùbá, Hausa, and Igbo, including a piece, specifically composed for them by Igwe Laz Ekwueme, famed Nollywood actor and University of Lagos professor,” the statement added.
However, the Morehouse Glee Club 50th Anniversary Tour of Nigeria is supported in part through a public diplomacy grant of the U.S. Mission to Nigeria and showcases the United States’ strong commitment to strengthening cultural relations between the people of Nigeria and the United States.
Delta Airlines and individual donors throughout the United States have also supported the upcoming tour.