2013-01-09 / Home

MLK musical celebration at M’kor Shalom to mark 10 years of Unity Choir

By SHARLA FELDSCHER For the Voice


The Unity Choir, which features the Cong. M’kor Shalom Choir together with singers representing churches, synagogues, and organizations from throughout New Jersey. 
Photo by Jack Weinberg. The Unity Choir, which features the Cong. M’kor Shalom Choir together with singers representing churches, synagogues, and organizations from throughout New Jersey. Photo by Jack Weinberg. A joyous Martin Luther King Celebration on Friday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. at Cong. M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill will mark 10 years of the synagogue’s MLK celebrations as well as 10 years since Cantor Anita Hochman joined forces with two of her colleagues to create the Unity Choir. Dr. Beverly Collins, recording artist, musician, and music teacher, and Evelyn Thomas, choir director, president of H.E.R.I.T.A.G.E., Inc., a not-for-profit organization that provides scholarships to students from a variety of backgrounds to further their music and artistic education, joined with Hochman to form the Unity Choir. Since then, the trio has grown to include Donavon Soumas, music director, composer, owner and director of Soumas Heritage School of Music in Plainfield, NJ, and founder of H.E.R.I.T.A.G.E., Inc.

This year, the Unity Choir, which features the Cong. M’kor Shalom Choir together with singers representing churches, synagogues, and organizations from throughout New Jersey, will also perform on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 21, at 3 p.m. at the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., Philadelphia. The public is invited to attend both events at no cost.

The musical celebration at M’kor Shalom, 850 Evesham Rd. in Cherry Hill, will epitomize the beauty of diversity and a reflection of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King. The Unity Choir—made up of over 80 voices—will sing music that ranges from the most high-spirited Gospel to stimulating songs of freedom and uplifting Jewish folk music.

On Friday, Jan. 18, the Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, will add remarks on the importance of the celebration. Soaries is respected throughout the country and was identified as one of the most influential African Americans in the country when he was included in the 2012 Annual “Power 100” List by Ebony Magazine. Not only was he New Jersey’s 30th Secretary of State, he is a noted author who has been featured in CNN’s “Black in America” documentary and is a contributor to numerous publications, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

“It is my honor to participate in this historic gathering of diverse communities in honor of Dr. King’s life, work and vision. This celebration is an example of the kind of cooperation, civility and commitment needed to create an America that honors Dr. King on a daily basis,” said Soaries.

In addition to choir members from Cong. M’kor Shalom, the Unity Choir features singers from Antioch Baptist Church, Morningstar Baptist Church, Kerygma, Bethel Baptist Church, Har Sinai Temple of Pennington, H.E.R.I.T.A.G.E., Inc. of Plainfield, and First Baptist of Somerset.

Cantor Hochman is elated about this upcoming concert, saying, “Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to be more excited or enthusiastic about our incredible Unity Choir, the feeling we are all sharing this time is nothing short of electric. We have grown in voices and spirit and we’re ready to soar in praise and joy in celebration of 10 years of incomparable communal harmony!”

For more information, visit www.mkorshalom.org or call 856-424-4220. For more information about the National Constitution center, visit www.constitutioncenter.org [EDITOR’S NOTE: Sharla Feldscher, of Voorhees, is a member of Cong. M’kor Shalom and its choir.]

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