Michiana choir combines 70s music with civic engagement

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 12:09 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A blast from the past with a message of unity, as The Ripple Effect Vocal Visionary Project plays its “We Are Family, Hits from the 70s” concert.

Happening at the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Leighton Auditorium in downtown South Bend, the “We Are Family” concert celebrated the pioneers of equality in American society and those who continue fighting for equal opportunities.

“Well, vocal visionaries are something different than the average choir that you hear because we have a mission, and that mission is to connect us by way of community, to use the enormous power of music to honor our differences, celebrate diversity, and encourage acceptance,” says Sherry Klinedinst, Director & Founder of The Ripple Effect Vocal Visionary Project, Inc.

As part of the concert, three speakers shared firsthand accounts of living through volatile time periods, specifically, the women’s, civil, and gay rights movements.

“Both of these movements, women’s rights, and women’s music, have encouraged me to be here today talking with you, but it is truly the women’s music movement that has helped me find my own voice, my joy, and to sing the song of my soul, says Sara Sage.”

“Because I think its common, what can be the hardest thing about coming out is that being LGBTQ is a small piece of what we are, and we worry that all people will think of when they think of us is that,” says Jim Ward. “Nowadays, there is less ignorance and more tolerance, but the road for many remains rough.”

“If change was possible at the age of 12, it is possible in every community where people face racism, segregation, and inequality,” says MarQuitta Hayes. “I ask that you help me make a change.”

With musical accompaniment, speakers reiterated that music is a powerful tool that can bring people together, regardless of their appearance, how they pray, or who they choose to love.

“It’s important to us that we hear from people and get a glimpse into their lives,” Klinedinst said. “We get a moment to walk in their shoes because, for some of us, it’s kind of impossible to do that, so we feel like by hearing these stories, we move ourselves further away from judgment and condemnation and maybe a little closer to acceptance and understanding.”

For more information, head to The Ripple Effect Vocal Visionary Project website or its Facebook page.