Diverse choral group tackle tough conversations about race relations and equality – CBS Denver


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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CBS4)– Colorado choir Unity Project tackles tough conversations about race and equality. The diverse group of performers learn to sing and coexist in harmony despite having different backgrounds.

Kim Schultz and Victoria Lipscomb bring people together through the power of song.

(credit: CBS)

“We used to attend a lot of lectures together, choral lectures and listening to choirs, and one of the first things we noticed was that each choir was one race,” Lipscomb told Andrea Flores of CBS4. “From that point on, Kim and I kind of decided, ‘What if we choir together with blacks, browns, whites, pakistanis, and people from all walks of life? “”

In 2020 they launched Unity Project and their mission was to create a safe space for everyone to share the love of music – part choral, part acts of service.

“We had to teach music in a whole different way,” said Schultz.

When the pandemic put the in-person practice on hold, they stepped forward and started virtual rehearsals, as racial tension in the United States was at an all time high.

“We were like, ‘There’s no way all these different people will come together and make some great art if they can’t hear each other’s stories,” Lipscomb said.

The first few months of rehearsals involved little or no singing at all. Instead, Unity Project focused on conversations about diversity and inclusion, equality and white privilege.

“After the first few meetings I kept calling Victoria and saying, ‘I’m not sure we can do this. I’m not sure it will work, it’s too hard for all of our people, ”Schultz said. “We are in a much bigger division than I thought.”

Week after week, the choristers return. Lipscomb understands how uncomfortable conversations can be.

“These conversations are difficult. They are hard on everyone, especially the BIPOC community. These conversations are triggered. Sometimes I don’t want to go and I lead it! But I always come forward because I know there is something to be gained by realizing that the fight for equal rights for all of us involves all of us, ”said Lipscomb. “Some of the people I disagree with the most when it comes to racial inequality, and even politics, are still here and we’re doing what we said we were going to do. We relate to each other whether we agree or not. It is surprising because it does not happen everywhere. If it did, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for a choir like this.

Project Unity member Sathya McClain says Project Unity has been an eye-opening experience.

“I am a mixed person. I’m mixed black and white, ”McClain said. “My revelations are just as grand as the ones that are completely white or completely black, and I kind of felt like I was going to make my way through because I’m mixed up, and bypass that process, and whatnot. is not a thing. “

While it’s not safe to sing in person yet, Kim and Victoria know harmony comes first.

“What connects us is so much bigger than what divides us, and I must continue to remember that, even in the most difficult times,” said Schultz. “These can be things that people avoid and don’t want to participate in that conversation that night. We have a lot of people who come very tired from rehearsal, and they come away with so much hope and energy that they really didn’t expect it.

To learn more about Unity Project, visit www.UnityProject-cs.org.


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