BYU ends Black History Month celebrations with Bossa Nova Concert

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A group of performers play instruments and sing. The performance was part of a Bossa Nova Concert commemorating Black History Month. (Robyn Christensen)

The Harold B. Lee Library celebrated Black History Month throughout February with a concert series on March 1.

The Bossa Nova concert was originally scheduled for Feb. 22 but was delayed a week due to the weather. Bossa nova is a jazz-type style of music that originated in 1950 Rio de Janeiro as a result of mixing influenced from the West African Slave Trade, according to The Jazz History Tree.

BYU Portuguese Linguistics Professor Michael Child led a group of student singers and musicians through six samba songs by Afro-Brazilian composers and even invited the audience to join in on the chorus of the songs or clapping along.

“The goal is to get as many students involved as we can and get out and play some music and try to do it some sort of justice,” Child said.

Child described inviting students in his classes to participate in the concert, some of them just a few weeks into beginner-level Portuguese courses, and then having them over to his house in the evening to practice.

“They’re not music students, they’re Portuguese students,” he said.

Percussionist Colby Sandholtz said he was a part of the group because he was invited to take part in a previous concert by pianist and flutist of the group, Greg Stallings.

“He knew I played drums on the jazz scene here at BYU, he reached out to me about playing percussion for a Cuban music gig we did about a month ago and that was a lot of fun and we gelled so he asked me again to do for this concert and it was just awesome,” Sandholtz said.

The songs were interjected with narrations by two other BYU Portuguese professors on the history of each song.

The Library of Congress says Black History Month first started in 1915 and in 1986, members of Congress passed a law to celebrate it during the month of February. BYU held several events to commemorate Black history in America, including a Walk of Life to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and BYU athletics partnering with the Marriott School of Business to host a “Stories of Life event on the Marriott Center floor in celebration of Black History Month.”

Performing Arts Librarian and Event Coordinator Myrna Layton said it has been fun to have this series of concerts throughout the month to celebrate and recognize Black history.

“We love doing these concerts during Black History Month,” Layton said.

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