Annual Black History Month concert features famous guests

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Staff Reports

FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon Middle School recently celebrated Black History Month with an annual live concert for eighth graders that featured a variety of genres including jazz, blues, rock, R&B and contemporary/pop. The band, which featured Principal Benjamin Williams as the drummer/vocalist, played music written or performed by famous African-American artists. Superintendent Dr. Parker also made a guest appearance as a saxophonist.

The band covered songs made famous by influential African American artists, including Prince, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Lenny Kravitz, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson and Sly & The Family Stone.

In addition to Principal Williams on drums and Superintendent Parker as a guest saxophonist, the all-star lineup of local musicians included keyboardist and lead vocals featured Allen Burke who toured with the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and the Spinners. Burke is also a member of the Indiana Jazz Hall of Fame. Mt. Vernon Alumni and now Band Teacher in Zionsville, Chris Murray, joined the band on trumpet. Completing the band was local guitarist Casey Harshbarger, TJam on vocals, Austin Shearer on bass, and Josh Weirich on saxophone. Several Mt. Vernon High School band members also made guest appearances to play a few songs with the band.

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“Music can change the way people think,” said Principal Williams. “Music can change society. Music can change the world. Overall, the goal here is to take kids on a historical tour of music that has changed America for the better.”

The band will be performing the concert again for students at Mt. Vernon High School, 8112 N. County Road 200 W, at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28.