Imagery of Regent people and campus

Regent Students Sing with Richmond Symphony

By Brett Wilson | April 24, 2013

CAS senior Mia Harris stands outside of the Carpenter Theatre in Richmond, Va.
Photo courtesy of Mia Harris

One hundred and fifty years ago, rising from the violent storms of inequality and war, came a swarm of voices making an ever-prevailing, joyful noise. Generations of slaves stood firmly in the hope of freedom as the unjust and abusive civilization where they were housed was carried away with the wind.

On Saturday, April 13, three Regent University students were part of a choir of 200 college students that echoed those strong voices as they joined the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission of the Virginia General Assembly and the Richmond Symphony to present A Musical Tribute to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Yanina James, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), relished the opportunity to be able to weave her own soprano voice and story into the chorus at the Carpenter Theatre in Richmond, Va. To her, participating in the commemoration concert was a celebration of the freedom her ancestors strived for. Her voice was a symbol of victory.

"If things like the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington had never happened, I wouldn't be here," said James. "It's very important for us to remember and really thank God that these events happened, because they shaped our future."

As a student who holds a great passion for communicating and a deep respect for the pivotal, historic events that allow her to pursue the career she dreams of, James hopes to prevent history from repeating itself.

"That's what makes America special—at some point all kinds of people have had a moment where someone has represented them and their voices were heard," said James as she reflected on the 150-year long journey of her ancestors. "It's like what we, as a nation, were founded on is coming to fruition."

CAS senior Mia Harris, like James, also shares a love of communication. She hopes her future as a communicator will entail the Biblical principal of "seeking justice." Her involvement with the Richmond Symphony is something she said she will fondly tell her future grandchildren about.

"I just love being a history-maker," said Harris.

Also a lover of music and theater, Harris enjoyed the opportunity to emote the passion behind the rousing spiritual songs such as "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and "God's Gonna Set This World on Fire."

"Sometimes you can just sing, sing, sing," said Harris. "But, you really need to be able to connect the audience to the words you sing."

Though Harris explained that the problems the world is facing today are not the same as those from 150 years ago, she believes there is an important fight for freedom in Christ that still needs to be won.

"Even today, when I think about the tragedy in Boston, it's like, 'Wow, is there no end?'" said Harris.

But, just as the spiritual songs and hymns of the past are united by a chord of hope, Harris is reminded that even in the midst of turmoil and confusion, there is a Maker who conducts every aspect of America's history and future.

"Just like now, there was destruction in [slave's] lives, and they couldn't see an end," said Harris. "But God made sense of it all. There is hope—even in despair—because God is in control."

Learn more about Regent University College of Arts & Sciences.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

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