‘Memorializing MLK, Jr.’ event at Miami’s Hamilton Downtown Center

The Phelan-Hagee Duo will offer a variety of music that will honor King’s memory

Miami University Hamilton Downtown Center will host a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute, “Memorializing MLK, Jr.” at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19. The Cincinnati-based Phelan-Hagee Duo, featuring Vincent Phelan on violin, and Rick Hagee on piano, will present a wide variety of music – from the gospel selections that Dr. King appreciated to the more contemporary offerings from Duke Ellington, and others.

“In this particular program they are going to be doing some music that would be true to the memory of Dr. King in a memorial type of manner, from those songs that are gospel in nature to tunes that would represent the period, the Civil Rights Era,” said John Vaughn, coordinator of community outreach for the Hamilton Campus and coordinator of the Hamilton Downtown Center.

The group will pay tribute throughout the evening and will also move on to play some numbers by African American composers from the jazz age on to the popular era that will showcase other successful African Americans who followed King. The program is expected to last about 90 minutes.

“We have had programs for the last several years of different types with spoken word, poetry, music and dance on Martin Luther King Day,” Vaughn said, “and we’ve made it an annual activity at the Hamilton Downtown Center to try and encourage members of our community to use the day to recognize what it’s set aside for. By bringing this type of music and program to the community, we think we’re helping to do that.”

On average, the program attracts from 50 to 100 attendees, which will honor and commemorate King, he said.

“First of all this is good entertainment and a nice way to spend the evening, but it’s also somewhat meaningful in being part of the audience, because it presents an opportunity to show respect,” Vaughn said.

“I was in college in my freshman year the year he was assassinated and I know the impact that it had on college students and the African American population of the country, in particular, to lose a leader of their community,” he said. “That year was very important to me because I learned about everything from civil rights to the government and the anti-war sentiment – everything that was happening in 1967 and 1968.”

The Hamilton Downtown Center provides a variety of meaningful, informational, instructional, educational and entertainment programs to the community, Vaughn said. This program is a little different than what’s been done in the past, but it presents a chance for civic engagement and an opportunity to experience something new.

“By bringing music, guest speakers and special programs to the Hamilton Downtown Center, we are providing sort of a living room space for people to gather and talk about, listen or share in things that they may not otherwise share or participate in. It’s a chance to widen your horizons a bit,” he said.

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