SU Black Heritage Committee hosts James McBride performance


In the past, Shippensburg University has hosted numerous notable performers to entertain and educate students on campus.

This past Monday night, The Ceddia Union building multi-purpose room was filled with music during a gospel concert performed by best-selling author James McBride, accompanied by The Good Lord Bird Band.

The concert was hosted by the SU Black Heritage Committee for the 2013 National Award Winner for Fiction, McBride.

The concert was titled, “The Liberal Arts Life: From Jazz to Journalism to Novel to Script,” and focused mainly on McBride’s newest novel, The Good Lord Bird.

McBride began his performance by addressing the audience. He discussed students’ lives in college, and how to appreciate education. McBride continued with his speech by relating his experiences of his college life, to how he began his public speaking, writing and music career.

McBride then continued with the concert with a reading from an excerpt from The Good Lord Bird. The novel follows a young slave named Henry Shackleford who is kidnapped by abolitionist John Brown after Shackleford is mistaken for being a girl.

McBride and The Good Lord Bird Band follow the story through the concert by incorporating both readings from the novel and gospel songs that were prominent during the 19th century.

“I thought it was a great experience and I really enjoyed the musical talent that was present,” said Jeremy Flick, a sophomore at SU “I also really enjoyed how the novel was related the concert.”

After the show the SU Multi-cultural caucus donated copies of McBride’s novels to be raffled at the conclusion of the concert. Winners of the novels were then given the opportunity to have their novels signed by McBride.

McBride began his professional career after receiving an undergraduate degree in music composition from Oberlin College in 1979. His musical background was highlighted by the incorporation of music, coupled with the readings from his novel.

He went on to receive his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and wrote for notable publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Rolling Stone.

His most notable work of fiction, “The Color of Water” was described by McBride as, “A black man’s tribute to his white mother.” The novel made it to the New York Time’s best-selling list, and remained there for over 100 weeks.

McBride is also known for other works like “Miracle at St. Anna” which was made into a movie directed by Spike Lee in 2008. The concert ended with a standing ovation from the audience after the performance and again after a quick encore performance where band members from the jazz ensemble were introduced one more time before exiting the stage.

“I was really entertained the whole way through the concert,” said freshman, Ashlan Asbill “I liked how it was not just a speech but a concert as well.”

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