Category Archives: Music

59th Grammys Recap: A Year of Firsts

by Matt Balogh 

While Connecticut had a very snowy and hectic weekend, the biggest names in the music business were preparing themselves for the 59th Celebration of the Grammy Awards.

This year, the beloved James Corden had the honor of hosting, bringing his usual comedic elements featured heavily throughout his late-night show. During his introduction, Corden demonstrated his comedic style by falling down the stairs as the opening song progressed. In a shift of feeling, Corden began to rap a summary of upcoming events planned for the night, accompanied by a beat for his well-rehearsed itinerary rap.
The show was filled with many exciting moments, but also had its fair share of technical difficulties and political influenced speeches. Being a celebration of music, the show was jam-packed with performances from many artists, including some of the nominees.

After Adele’s show-opening rendition of “Hello,” many artists followed with their acts such as Daft Punk with The Weekend, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Chance the Rapper. Some performances were more minimalistic than others, such as Ed Sheeran’s stripped-down looper pedal performance of “Shape of You.”

Sheeran had used the guitar pedal technology to record live loops on the spot, and built them up as he sang and played guitar over the backing, making for a very interesting display. As for the more elaborate performances, the widely acclaimed artist Beyoncè had a massive display, paying tribute to themes such as motherhood, love and civil harmony. The act brought out over two dozen back up dancers, and featured special effects to bring a surreal element to the imagery of the routine.

The night also paid tribute to recently passed musical artists George Michael and Prince. Adele led the George Michael tribute with a performance of “Fastlove,” to which she had requested to restart while looking rather disappointed in herself. Later on, Bruno Mars had collaborated with The Times to bring an energetic dedication to Prince.

In a more political influence, A Tribe Called Quest took the stage with Anderson Paak, Consequence and Busta Rhymes to both pay tribute to their fallen member Phife Dawg, and to use their performance of their song “We The People” to slam President Donald Trump. In an excellent message of equality, they made the message clear to resist to “President Agent Orange.”

There were some interesting collaborations throughout the night, most notably the Bee Gees tribute and the unusual pairing of Lady Gaga with Metallica. In a medley of the Bee Gees’ classic hits, Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly and Little Big Town set the stage merging all their own styles, blending the segments fairly well. On the other hand, the chemistry with Lady Gaga and Metallica felt rather forced, and very odd. Their performance of Metallica’s new song “Moth Into Flame” made Gaga look like a winner of a “Sing with the band” contest, as it unraveled itself as more as a karaoke tribute. James Hetfield’s mic had not been working, adding to the uncomfortable environment of the situation, however, Gaga at least maintained very high energy to keep the song going, appropriately ending with a stage-dive at the song’s end.

The Awards themselves brought history, as there were many first-time winners and records set. One of the more interesting of the winners was Chance the Rapper, a fully independent artist that took home 3 awards last night. Considering Chance releases all his music for free, this meant that he had been awarded more Grammys than the total amount of songs he has sold.

Chance also beat out Kanye West for Rap Album of the Year with his mixtape “Coloring Book.” First time winners Twenty One Pilots had accepted their award for best Pop Duo in a peculiar fashion: with their pants off. Singer Tyler Joseph had explained to the audience that they had promised themselves that ever since they once watched the same event on TV while dressed in a similar outfit. David Bowie had certainly left his mark on the musical world, as he posthumously won all 5 awards that he had been nominated for. Many different artists and family members came up to accept his awards in his honor.

One of the most anticipated face-offs of the night went to Beyoncè and Adele. Both highly acclaimed artists, but went head to head on several awards. While being widely praised and essentially hyped up over everything she does, Beyoncè was expected to have a clean sweep through all of her 9 nominations. However, for both Record and Album of the year, Adele had claimed victory, but tearfully gave a shoutout to Beyoncè as she felt that her album had deserved it instead.

The night had been a very shocking and entertaining collection of artists, certainly made for an interesting event.

Less Than Jake, Sounding The Alarm in 2017

 

by Matt Balogh

Less Than Jake has been in the business for 25 years now, bringing fame to the sound that is Ska Punk.

In the mid to late 90s, bands like Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Sublime and Less Than Jake have helped to popularize the third-wave of ska to a mass market. This following gained attention of major record to take interest, allowing Less Than Jake to get their big break on Capitol Records.

In 1996, Less Than Jake released their cult classic album Losing Streak, widely accepted as one of the best albums of the 90s punk and ska scene. From then on, they have put out six more full lengths, five compilation albums, and eight EPs.

Their sound was definitive in the start of the era, providing a mix of fast-paced punk music, with a switch of reggae and ska influenced riffs. This mixture was the base of many bands music at the time.

Throughout the years, the band had experimented with combinations of their signature style, and even straying to more pop-punk sounds, which was received with mixed reception from long-time fans.

More recently in 2013, Less Than Jake had released their eighth album See The Light, a strong effort that proved to both fans and critics that they have not lost their flair. The album consisted of 13 songs that flowed perfectly from track to track, being the opposite of a boring listen. Generating crowd favorite live tracks, and some of the catchiest music they have released to date, See The Light had introduced the band into the 2010s: a decade relatively dry in the vein of ska punk.

After four years without new music, the band had released Sound The Alarm on Feb 3, 2017. The new EP consists of seven songs, but each have strong hooks and melodies to really give the release its punch. While instrumentally similar to their albums See The Light, Anthem and Hello Rockview, the band has shown that they have not lost their style, but have evolved to a new layer of their energetic form.

To introduce the EP, the band ‘sounds the alarm’ with their opening track “Call To Arms,” that begins with a bass riff that ignites the song into a mosh-appropriate groove full of action. Showing their progression in stylistic changes, “Whatever the Weather” works as a slower paced jam, fit with a usual hook in the chorus that is lifted by the reggae upstrokes of the guitar, then transitioning into a full-fledged power chord jam. Similar in style, “Years of Living Dangerously” incorporates the ska elements along with an alternative rock sound and structure.

Overall, the band has not changed much, which could lead as both a blessing and a curse in this case. The EP also seems to go by fast, even at seven songs, which may have worked better in a full length situation. However, the EP allows for a nice refresher for long-time fans. It serves as a gateway to the band’s music through their new contract with Pure Noise Records, an indie label that is very popular among fans of indie rock and pop punk in the new scene.

Produced under the wing of Roger Lima, the band’s bassist, the EP marks one of his many projects in the production chair. Along with his production work, the album features Lima’s vocals on a large amount of the album, as opposed to their previous work, where guitarist Chris DeMakes usually covers more of the singing.

A pretty great effort for the 25 year old group, making fans happily anticipate any upcoming projects. I give the album an overall rating of 7/10.

 

 

‘Beliebers’ on the Rise

by Analisa Novak

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photo from Flickr

In 2015, I became a “Belieber.” Before you go insulting my taste in music and questioning my sanity, understand that Justin Bieber’s new album “Purpose” surpasses any personal beliefs you may have of him. It’s that damn good.

In a time where purchasing albums and CDs is almost mythical thanks to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, “Purpose” brought back the importance of buying albums and listening to them entirely. I was originally drawn to this album for the two highly successful hits released before the album actually dropped. “Sorry” and “What do you Mean,” although sentimental, are instant club bangers that are on constant request. Bieber can transform songs that are worded to make you miss an ex, into a song you can dance to and sing loudly with your closest friends.

With those two hits on the radio prior to Bieber’s Nov. 13th release date, my curiosity was rampant. How is this the same Justin Bieber that made my eyes roll less than three years ago with his lyrics explaining how he could be my “Buzz Lightyear” in his single “Boyfriend?” The answer was simple, just as any other 21-year-old, he was growing up and his music was as well.

We have to remember, Justin Bieber has been in this industry since he was 13-years-old. He was discovered with an accidental YouTube click by marketing executive Scooter Braun. The rest is history, forever cemented with the term “Belieber” and his infamous bowl haircut. He was a phenomena at such a young age that he never had a chance to truly loosen up and break the structure that had been carefully crafted by marketing and label executives trying to capitalize on “Bieber-fever.”

Now at 21-years-old with four albums under his belt, Bieber is finally an independent artist. Multiple producer’s worked on “Purpose,” but the number one producer was Bieber himself. With that, “Purpose” comes off more as a synthesis of R&B and electro-dance, compared to the pop-high beats his previous albums have had.

Songs like “No Sense” and “Company” have you anticipating to see your special someone with their melodies. With the fame Bieber has, he can also have huge big name artists on his tracks, but chooses to do the opposite. Singing 10 out of the 13 songs himself, only three tracks feature other artists. Bieber chose Big Sean, Travis Scott and Halsey to be the three featured artist.

My favorite song on the album is “The Feeling” ft. Halsey, whose euphoric lyrics and rhapsody leaves me reevaluating my own feelings. I purchased “Purpose” and with that I also purchased a membership into team Bieber. He is currently preparing for his tour, which embarks in April and makes a stop in Hartford on July 10, 2015.

Whether your music taste is electric (“Where Are You Now”), R&B (“No Pressure”), Acoustic (“Love Yourself”) or Soul (“Purpose”). Bieber delivers them all in a perfectly packaged album that is truly an example of his resiliency as an artist and the vision for his music to come.

Matt Swieton’s Return to his Rhythmic Roots

by Sheridan Cyr

Central Connecticut graduate of 2012, Matt Swieton will be returning to campus as one of the musicians performing in Decaying in Decades’ “Home for the Holidays” show in Semesters Dec. 2nd. He is the only unique one in the setlist, because Swieton is not really a musician.

His true passion is archeology, though music is what led him to the discovery that he was looking for all along.

“Back in high school I would play music sometimes more than 10 hours a day,” said Swieton. “I didn’t want to pursue going to college.” He had hoped that playing music would get him somewhere instead.

In the back of his mind, Swieton knew better. Though the application processes, university tours and all of the additional labor it takes to get into college were not nearly ideal, Swieton knew he had to do something.

He then was accepted at CCSU and began pursuing a career in music. “If I’m gonna go to school, I may as well study something I enjoy.”

During his first year, he was placed in an archeology course amidst his music courses. Swieton said the Music Department had high demands for its students right off the bat, and he found himself quickly taking a liking to, and finding a sort of safe haven in his archeology course.

Now, Swieton is a stone tool specialist who simply plays music for himself as a side hobby. His career brings him to excavation sites all over the world. Swieton’s job is to rebuild tools that members of societies used hundreds of years ago using only resources they had available during their times. “I make them as a methodological tool to answer questions about people in the past,” he said. Through the process of rebuilding, he learns about their world, culture, hobbies, work, struggles and play. He can then teach others about a culture’s history and understand a little of how our world came to be.

Swieton’s love of music is often an underlying factor of his work. He described a rainy, dreary afternoon with some partners at a site. Part out of boredom, part as a mood-lifter, he took out his guitar and began singing a humorous song about the rain, mud and bugs. He became the highlight of the day amongst his colleagues.

While he has written an album and has played a number of shows, his heart remains with archeology. Swieton is pursuing achieving a doctorate in archeology and continues to explore history throughout the world, but his guitar will never be too far out of reach.

All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens Bring ‘Back to the Future Hearts’ Tour to Connecticut

by Jacqueline Stoughton

Upon the release of their new respective albums, popular alternative pop-punk bands All Time Low and Sleeping With Sirens put on a show to remember during their Connecticut stop on their ‘Back to the Future Hearts’ tour.

Crowds flooded the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford Saturday Nov. 20th. The Oakdale has recently become a Connecticut hotspot for concerts having welcomed popular artists such as Zedd, A Day to Remember and Steve Aoki.

Neck Deck opened the show for the co-headlining bands and played hits including, “A Part of Me,” “What Did You Expect” and “Kali Ma.” Although the Wrexham, England-based band is relatively new on the scene in America, they show a lot of potential. Performing with bands like All Time Low and recording collaborations with A Day to Remember’s frontman, Jeremy McKinnon – they’re sure to be well on their way to a successful career.

Sleeping With Sirens followed, performing a very satisfying set for fans in attendance. Opening their set with their first single “Kick Me” off their newest album, “Madness,” charged the crowd with limitless energy preparing them for what’s still to come.

With the exception of songs like “We Like it Loud,” “Go Go Go” and “Fly,” I’m not the biggest fan of “Madness,” their most recent album. Going into this concert, every longtime fan is always worried if they’re going to play too much off their newest album, and not enough of the golden classics from past albums that made them what they are today. Sleeping With Sirens did not disappoint, playing a healthy mix of new tracks, and older classics including, “If You Can’t Hang,” “Tally it Up, Settle the Score” and “Congratulations.”

My biggest critique of Sleeping With Sirens set was when given the choice of playing either, “Iris” or “Scene Two: Roger Rabbit,” they played “Iris.” This was my first time seeing Sleeping With Sirens live, and was especially looking forward to watching them perform “Roger Rabbit.” However, the biggest disappointment of the night was when they made the poor choice to sing “With Eyes to Hear and Ears to See,” acoustic. Isn’t that always the way when your favorite band decides to play your favorite song acoustic style? For future reference, Sleeping with Sirens, this is not a song that is meant to be sung acoustic. Lots of moshing and intensified dancing opportunities were sadly missed.

Finally, All Time Low hit the stage. Unlike Sleeping With Sirens, All Time Low played way too much off their newest album, “Future Hearts.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you ignore hits such as, “Vegas,” “Time-Bomb” and “Somewhere in Neverland” the set becomes a nightmare come true for fans who have been following this band since the beginning.

Like Sleeping With Sirens, All Time Lows gave concert-goers the choice to hear “Therapy” or “Remember Sunday.” All the older fans (including myself) tried their best to scream as loud as humanly possible for “Remembering Sunday,” but we were no match for the screeching youthful vocals of the underage group, which made up a majority of the crowd.

“Remembering Sunday” is a staple in every All Time Low setlist. There are some songs that bands just have to play. Panic at the Disco has to play “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” A Day to Remember has to play “If it Means A lot to You” and Fall Out Boy has to play “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” It doesn’t matter how sick of performing this song you are, it must be played. Needless to say, I was at the bar during this portion of the show drowning my sorrows in another Bud Light.

It was an eye opening experience this time around, I’ve seen All Time Low in concert so many times now I can’t even provide an accurate figure. This was the first time I realized what a huge age gap there is within their fan base. While updating social media accounts during a performance of a “Future Hearts” song, my friend and I laughed at two young girls dancing and singing their hearts out while we reminisced how that was us some eight years ago when we first started going to All Time Low shows. When “Poppin’ Champagne” came on – which I was especially grateful to hear since this was the first time I’ve seen this band perform this song in seven years, roles reversed as my friend and I started dancing and singing our hearts out while the two young girls wondered what this song was.

Overall, All Time Low put on an excellent show. I was happy to hear classics including, “Damned if I Do Ya, Damned if I Don’t,” “Dear Maria, Count Me In” and “Weightless.” My only critiques for the boys of the Baltimore-based band would be to never, ever skip out on playing “Remembering Sunday” again, and to always include at least one song from your EP. Because is it even an All Time Low show if you don’t hear either “Jasey Rae” or “Coffee Shop Soundtrack?”

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Jack Barakat, guitarist for All Time Low, sings on stage. Photo by: Jacqueline Stoughton, The Recorder

Aurelius is Back at it With New Faces

by Sheridan Cyr

Aurelius has been through a great deal in its pursuit to becoming a larger part in the music industry. Founded in 2008 by Marcus Krysiak, the band has seen members come and go frequently, while Krysiak strives to find the perfect sound he envisions.

“It’s kind of difficult to label us into one genre,” Krysiak explained. As the main component of the band and writer of all of the music, he draws much of his influence of sound from Coheed and Cambria. After a moment of struggle, he offered, “We’re definitely a rock band… with a heavy influence, kind of progressive and artsy.”

What initially began as a five-piece group, has dwindled down to a current three-piece. Composed of Krysiak, who writes the music and plays rhythm and lead guitar interchangeably, and friends Angie Scott on bass guitar and Jesse Swieton on drums.

The band has spent more time as an instrumental group than one with a vocalist. While Krysiak hopes to find the right voice to enhance Aurelius, he doesn’t mind being strictly instrumental. “The music can be interesting enough on its own,” Krysiak said. “It takes guts. Most people want a vocalist to take some of the pressure off.”

Krysiak and Swieton came together three months ago, and Scott joined about a month ago. Though still working out the expected beginner’s kinks, “Yes, we’re tight as a group, but we’re not really quite ready to go out and promote ourselves officially,” Krysiak said. He explained, however, that they would do just fine in a show.

Their first show is actually coming up quickly. Aurelius will be playing in “Home for the Holidays” in Semesters on Dec. 2nd, in the Student Center along with a handful of other Central Connecticut-based bands. Including Decaying in Decades, headliners who put the whole event together, Static Charmer, Space Camp, Mandala and solo guitarist Matt Swieton.

“It’s so soon!” Krysiak said nervously, but immediately countered with assurance that the band is ready to take on the challenge.

Scott had never played bass guitar before joining the band, so she is learning it on her own in preparation for the show. Krysiak has been playing guitar since high school, and Swieton even longer.

Krysiak was able to show me “Pieces,” a song he wrote with the help of a friend in Ugly Duck Studios in Boston. His genre placement was accurate and has some heavy parts, but also an uplifting, charming feel to it.

Aurelius comes from the stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. “I always thought it had that floaty, dream-sounding feel,” Krysiak said, defining the name’s reasoning. He uses the name in many places of his life, including gamer tags.

Krysiak currently works as a manager at Aspen Dental in Meriden. The job provides the “income to supply my dream,” he said. When asked if he would pursue Aurelius into the big leagues, “One-hundred percent yes. If I had the opportunity to pursue it over dental, I would in a second. I can always get a manager position at any time, but music is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

An Exploration of ‘Wonderwall’s’ Musicality

by Christopher Marinelli

“Wonderwall” has become an iconic campfire song, every beginner to intermediate guitarist is sure to learn on their quest to becoming a guitar aficionado. On the journey to shredding solos of guitar legend Steve Vai, or playing the beautiful classical masterpieces by Andre Segovia, one must first overcome the four-chord progression of “Wonderwall.”

The song was written by the famous British band Oasis, who claim to be the resurrections of the dead Beatles’ members, though they were born before they died. While Oasis has enough one-hit-wonders to make some of the greatest “best of” albums of all time, no song stands out like “Wonderwall.”

“Wonderwall” is in the key of F-sharp minor and captures the perfection of a four-four time signature like no other. To add to its contemporary use of intermediate construction, “Wonderwall” takes the campfire song to a whole new level by putting the capo on the second fret. With this higher intonation and resonation, the acoustic guitar is truly able to capture the ambiance of the E minor chord transitioning into that powerful G chord.

It is the perfect song for the new guitarist, it utilizes the use of consistent notes flowing throughout the song. In the most basic sense of playing “Wonderwall,” there is no need to even move two of your fingers throughout the entirety of the song. This construct of underlying notes creates the reverberation and ambiance that every 12-year-old camper desires to impress their friends.

“Wonderwall” is able to boast far more than a simple four-chord structure. It has accumulated over 162 million views on YouTube, far more than any piece by Beethoven, Bach, or even The Beatles. It has become one of YouTube’s most played songs, making it safe to say there is no doubt it will exceed over 1 billion views in our lifetime, joining the ranks of Justin Bieber, Psy’s song Gangum style, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Megan Trainor, One republic and of course Wiz Khalifa.

From a lyrical standpoint, “Wonderwall” is a semantic perfection. “And after all, you’re my Wonderwall” is a line that has taken the metaphorical expression “Wonderwall” and essentially itemized it through song.

Someone would not understand what a “Wonderwall” is without having heard the song, making its definition pragmatic to the band of Oasis. After all, what is a “Wonderwall?” It is at least discernible to say it is a singular object and not two separate entities of “wonder “ and “wall.” This can be gathered by the intentional lack of spacing between the two words in the title of the song, suggesting that the “Wonderwall” is indeed its own noun-phrase.

Through its simplicity and catchiness, “Wonderwall” by Oasis arguably become a timeless piece of music within the millennial generation, compared to many other composers such as Steve Vai, Beethoven and Mozart. A contemporary college student is more likely to recognize the lines, “Today, is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you,” than name the second movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, “Summer.”

“Wonderwall” is a composition that has conquered the campfire jam session, and helped musicians from all different professional levels get where they are today.

Album Review: “To Pimp A Butterfly”

N.A.S.

by Brian O’Neill

When “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated third album was released a week early, the music world was abuzz with reactions and reviews of the unexpected drop. Following up their 2012 critically acclaimed “Good Kid M.A.A.D City,” and Lamar’s long list of stellar features and singles since GKMC’s release, expectations couldn’t be much higher for this new LP.

From a production standpoint, “To Pimp a Butterfly” is a world away from the heavily trap influenced sounds that have been ruling the airwaves in mainstream rap for the past year. Instead, the sound is deeply rooted in funk, soul and jazz throughout the album. Commissioning musicians like bassist Thundercat, The Isley Brothers and funk legend George Clinton, as well as producers such as Flying Lotus, Sounwave, and Pharrell Williams, “To Pimp a Butterfly” is a combination of 70s and 80s funk and soul, 90s West Coast G-Funk, old school boom bap and jazz, but done with a distinctly modern sound.

Songs like “For Free? (Interlude)” sound more like free-form jazz than hip hop. Others like “King Kunta” show the soul inspiration, with background vocals and a bass line that would feel at home with James Brown tracks. The George Clinton feature on “Wesley’s Theory” gives the song a distinct funk element, and singer Bilal’s feature on “These Walls” does the same. “i” has a pop soul feel, was made with the help of the legendary Isley Brothers, and won 2 Grammys this year.

Lyrically, Kendrick is as sharp as ever, talking about his experiences with fame, race and class in America, as well as those issues on a national scale. The first two tracks “Wesley’s Theory” and “For Free? (Interlude)” both cover society’s expectations for a rapper, spending their money recklessly, and how ‘Uncle Sam’ enables excess, pimps the rapper to his benefit, and throws the rapper aside when the profits stop. Kendrick refuses to follow in those footsteps. The themes of temptations of the rap lifestyle and hip hop culture are touched upon on “Alright” and “For Sale? (Interlude),” as Lucy, or Lucifer, tempts them with promises of fame and fortune.

The songs “u” and “i” are about self-hate and love, with “u” talking about Lamar’s struggles with depression and his shortcomings; his voice cracking and on the verge of a breakdown throughout the second verse. The hook in “i” that says “I love myself!” explains the song’s message of being happy with who you are perfectly, and is in stark contrast to the hatred and anger Kendrick shows in “u.”

The self-love message of the song “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” is directed at the Black community, saying “Dark as the midnight hour or bright as the mornin’ sun/Give a f*ck about your complexion,” to relay that every color is beautiful.

Race and politics are talked about heavily through the album. In another of the album’s singles, “The Blacker the Berry”  Kendrick rhymes over a 90s boom bap inspired beat, aggressively addressing the self-hatred in the black community, as well as the racism from outside. The song “Hood Politics” compares congress and the government to street gangs saying, “Set trippin’ all around/Ain’t nothin’ new but a flow of new Demo-Crips and Re-Blood-licans/Red state versus a blue state, which one you governin’?” Other songs like “Wesley’s Theory,” “Institutionalized” and “Blacker the Berry” talk about the impact of the Reagan Era on the inner-city poor communities, a topic that Lamar has discussed in all of his albums.

The album ends with “Mortal Man,” and has Lamar asking, “if the sh*t hits the fan will you still be a fan?” The song gives way to Lamar reading a poem, one that has been cut and dropped into the end and beginning of tracks throughout the entire album. The poem explains the message and themes of the album. Lamar ends the poem and a conversation with Tupac opens. Using an old interview with Tupac, Lamar cut and worked his own questions in. Even though Tupac’s words are over 20 years old, they are still relevant, as his remarks on the LA riots of 1992 can be related to the Ferguson riots of today.

“To Pimp a Butterfly” feels less like an album and more like a musical. Each song tells a story and builds off one another, and all tie together in the end. What this album lacks in radio hits and bangers, it makes up for with beautifully done production and storytelling. In a year already full of excellent releases in both hip hop and music in general, “To Pimp a Butterfly” is one of the best albums, not just of 2015, but of the past decade.

Ebony Choir Reignites the Fires of Faith

N.A.S.

by Sheridan Cyr

The Ebony Choir has done it again; in their spring recital last Wednesday evening, they filled every inch of Welte Auditorium with faith, hope, confidence and joy through the spirit of God.

Billy Powell, emcee and gospel recording artist, started off the recital with a rap of his own. As the chorus came around, he had the whole room singing back to him, “Giving glory to our King.” Some even rose from their chairs and danced to his song.

Next, two girls under the name “The Freedom Dancers,” left an incredible impression with an interactive dance advocating for renewal, healing and self-power. They began with one girl on the ground surrounded by picture frames. Each frame had one hardship scrawled across in bold; alcoholism, drugs, depression. The grounded girl would show one at a time, while the other acted it out to the music. Mid-way, they fought over the frames and ended up throwing them to the ground, shattering them. Their message was to free yourself from your demons and of spirits that are not like God.

Jonathan Cunningham followed after the dance with his self-written song, “God’s Grace,” on the keyboard. He focused on second chances and freedom. “No matter what you’re going through, His grace is a vision for you.”

Powell took the stage again to introduce the Ebony Choir, “the baddest college choir in Connecticut!” he claimed.

Steven Wilson, director of the chorale, offered a message before beginning the recital: “Saying ‘yes’ to the Lord means you’ve got to give up some things. You will fall and make many, many mistakes, but if you say ‘Yes, Lord, I will try,’ He will guide you to where you should be.”

The choir enriched the audience’s faith with a number of deeply moving, provocative songs. They touched on many fears and insecurities that nearly every person faces.

One issue within Christianity is that many people do not feel that they deserve God’s love. Their song, “You are Worthy,” fought that idea, claiming that everyone deserves His love, no matter how wrong you may have been, or how far you have pulled away from God.

In the very energetic and upbeat song, “Yes, Lord,” Ebony Choir gave into God, promising to do anything for Him. The audience danced, clapped and shouted out praise and approval to the catchy beat.

One of their slower songs, sang by director Wilson, beckoned that “the power of sin is broken, Jesus overcame it all.” The song talked about Easter and Jesus’ death, only to rise again three days later. Wilson’s powerful voice alone was enough to send chills through the room.

Wilson led his choir through a song of confession and overwhelming compassion. They gave all of their love to God, repeating, “Lord I love you more than anything.”

Giving all to restore the faith of those broken in the room, Wilson said, “It’s a different kind of love with God. People walk in and out of our lives. They use us. They mistreat us. They disrespect us. God is always here. God only offers love, and He will never hurt you.”

The choir put on an exceptionally profound performance that evening. Their message was definitely received, and audience members walked out of the room with full hearts, renewed faith and peace.

Ebony Chorale Fall Concert

by Sheridan Cyr

CCSU’s Ebony Chorale Ensemble performed their annual fall gospel concert Thursday evening in Torp Theater. The concert featured a compilation of upbeat and lively songs, prayer and rejoices.

“This is our testimony. Whether we know it or not, we all have a testimony,” explained the choir’s secretary, Kristina Goodrich.

The group was composed of about thirty vocalists, two guitarists, a drummer, keyboardist and director. The show jumped into action with a sound that made both the curtains and the hearts of the audience tremble.

Goodrich welcomed to the stage The Gospel Girls of Rehobeth Church of God: Yasmine and Brianna, who enticed the crowd with a heartfelt confessional song. Together they sang, “I wanted to let you know, that you’re my closest friend.” The song earned a strong reaction as listeners clapped to the beat and shouted in agreement and encouragement.

Treasurer Elissa Coleman opened up, saying, “I would just like to get transparent with you guys for a hot second. Seeking out God was one of the best decisions of my life. It has taught me to love myself.” She continued to say, “Joining Ebony has given me a family to love and be loved by.”

Conductor of the chorale ,Stephen Goodwin, spoke on the temptation to veer away from God, specifically in college. He explained that faith can easily become lost among homework, holding down a job and managing a social life. Ebony chorale allows students to admit to and thrive in their faith without feeling embarrassed or tempted, according to Goodwin.

“Welcome In” encouraged interaction from the crowd. The song was so beautifully overwhelming that it was nearly impossible to not contribute to the message. Many got up from their seats and danced, prayed, lifted up their hands and even tried to sing along.

“Not Like Me” featuring a solo from Chanel Little reached the audience most, as the most familiar tune. It begged an answer for the question, “What if God was one of us?” Williams and Little admitted that humans have the ability lie, put off others, give into temptations and simply are not as reliable as God is. The message encouraged everyone to act in life as you expect God to act toward you.

Soloist Evard James led “Nothing Without You,” a song made eminently powerful through a repetitive confession to God. By the end of the song, the whole room was yelling, arms stretched toward the ceiling, some even with tears streaming down, “I’m nothing without you, I’m nothing without you.”

A few more lively, emotionally moving songs followed before closing. Micca Charles and Christina Peltrop powerfully sang, “Beautiful,” Stephen Wilson led the choir in “Meet Me Here,” and president Shazayla Parker riled up the room with “At the Cross.” Every single song, without fail, earned a standing ovation and compelling praise, love and encouragement from the voices of listeners.

The show in its entirety gave a magnificent message of hope, faith and promise. It allowed people who have had trust broken, who struggle to buy one decent meal, who are devastated by the loss of a loved one, who cannot imagine getting through just one more day, to feel the empowering capacity of God’s love.

Founded in 1972 by Michael B. Hill, James A. Knight and Central’s first black campus minister Reverent Robert Mason, Ebony Chorale Ensemble formed to enhance and develop Black culture through musical enlightenment. Any student may join. In addition to rehearsals they have group discussions and Bible Studies every week and present one concert toward the end of every semester.