At the recent “’Till Victory is Won” concert, School of Music students and faculty, along with a packed audience, were abuzz with excitement in celebration of Black History Month through music. One individual, Jeremiah Brown, a second-year music education (voice) student, not only performed and emceed the concert but was also the brainchild behind “’Till Victory is Won” which showcased works composed by African American composers.
The engaged audience lauded “’Till Victory is Won” with standing ovations throughout the concert, with Brown beaming with pride at the final bow. The College of the Arts (COTA) caught up with Brown about his vision and the lead-up to the big day.
COTA: How did “’Till Victory is Won” come about, and what was your goal/inspiration behind the pitch?
JB: When I first brought the idea to Dr. Deanna Joseph (Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities), she asked me, “Is this something you would like to lead?” Joyfully, I responded yes because I’ve always had a strong desire to take on a new challenge that can have a lasting impact. Music and Black history mean a lot to me, especially because of my background. Every school I went to, from kindergarten through eighth grade, celebrated it. In high school, I transferred from DeKalb to Gwinnett County and they didn’t celebrate Black History month, and while I was there, I took the initiative to put on a play that journeyed through Black history. It is now a recurring celebration that I started at Grayson High School. Knowing that I could make a difference, and after noticing that the GSU School of Music didn’t celebrate it, I was compelled to propose a concert showcasing Black success and hardships. The celebration of Black History Month is very important to all of us and shows acceptance, awareness of people around us, respect for each other’s cultures and adds so much value to this community. It amazes me to think about what we can do with our talents when we all come together; we can make history! So thank you Dr. Joseph for believing in me, and thank you to everyone who supported me along this journey. I hope this concert had a big impact on the school and people’s lives, so it won’t be the last one.
COTA: Please share your thoughts about the program mix and artist line-up.
JB: This program was very unique because almost every department participated in it. There was everything from Gospel choir to solo rap. After Dr. Joseph sent a mass email out to all department heads about participating, there was an overwhelming number of responses. Having the bassoon ensemble, the trombone choir, piano, saxophone and more in one concert was heartwarming. I wanted all students and faculty to have a chance to participate, even anyone outside of the School of Music who wanted to showcase their talent.
COTA: What were some of your key responsibilities in orchestrating the event?
JB: First was organizing the program and coordinating the repertoire to make for a smooth program. I was also responsible for finding a name for the program. I asked my friend, Demetrious Sampson, who had the perfect idea to call it “’Till Victory is Won” and we stuck with it. Additionally, I helped with staging and deportment responsibilities. The concert needed a lot of background preparation!
COTA: Can you please talk about the audience and backstage energy?
The energy was immaculate! The audience was amazing, and they were engaged, lively and pretty hilarious with some of the reactions. Backstage was a little chaotic at first because there was so much going on, and there were a lot of people, given that we had the dress rehearsal prior to the concert. My stage manager, Brooke Envall, helped out tremendously and relieved all the tension I had so the process could go a lot smoother.
COTA: Lastly, now that you’ve had time to reflect, did “’Till Victory is Won” meet your expectations, and what are your hopes about the concert moving forward?
JB: Absolutely! I feel confident that future shows will only get better because of how high the bar was set. My hopes are to have the concert at the Rialto so more of the student body and the public can come out. I would like it to be funded so that there can be a reception at the end for everyone to enjoy. If we could collaborate with local schools, and definitely Morehouse or Spelman College, I would truly love that.