Yolanda Rabun

Inaugural jazz concert for new university President Roslyn Artis

Source:  The Miami Times
By: Chloe Herring

It was over a century ago that a chorus of 500 children performed a song to be heralded by generations of Blacks. The song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” indelibly connects Florida Memorial University (FMU) to the soundtrack of history.

In an extension of that history, the university is hosting a jazz concert Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Lou Rawls Center for Performing Arts to commemorate the new presidency of Roslyn Artis.

“It would be a tragedy for people not to know the legacy,” Artis said in a previous interview.

Dr. ArtisSince she was appointed back in February, Artis introduced the school’s first online courses, improved campus internet and works to bridge a technological

gap that exists between FMU and local high schools. Her strong focus in technology is highlighted by the university’s shortcoming, which Artis said was affecting students’ ability to compete.

“Those priorities were derived from challenges our institution had,” Artis said. “We have a lot of work to do, but so much to offer.”

With the regular academic school year in session, she has a lot to prove. But she made some noise of her own by becoming the first woman to serve as FMU’s president.

History was made in 1899 when James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was translated from poem to music to by his brother J. Rosamund Johnson, who was a faculty member of the then Florida Baptist Academy, which later became FMU.

The lyrics of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” transcribed the black struggle for civil rights, creating a space in the hearts of people who incorporated it as the Black National Anthem.

It is also the official song of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Whether featured artist, Yolanda Rabun, will delight the crowd at Artis’ inaugural jazz concert next month by singing the ballad is a mystery.

“They have a true, rich and amazing history to the school,” Rabun said. “[But] you have to come to find out.”

Rabun is a soulful jazz performer based in North Carolina. She said she once lived in Miami Gardens and her grandmother attended FMU. Her stardom spans the globe, as she’s performed in Japan, South Korea, Portugal, Spain and Jordan.

In 2011, Rabun released her debut album “So Real,” which had a number one hit by the same name in the United Kingdom.

“I like to sing more than songs. I like to sing words in a way that touches people I’m performing to. You will be entertained,” Rabun said.

Tickets can be purchased for Artis’ inaugural jazz concert for $25 by calling 305-626-3611.

» View/Read article on the Miami Times web site

Category: FMU in the News