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Honoring Sounds of Blackness at the Southside Community Celebration

Honoring Sounds of Blackness at the Southside Community Celebration

As we gear up for the Sabathani Southside Community Celebration on Thursday, February 22nd, there’s an electrifying anticipation in the air. At the heart of this celebration is a tribute to a musical ensemble that has become synonymous with the vibrant tapestry of African American culture and resilience – Sounds of Blackness. 

In a recent interview with Gary Hines, the director of Sounds of Blackness, we delved deep into the roots of this iconic group, tracing its journey from beginnings to international acclaim. Born in Yonkers, New York, Gary’s musical odyssey found its home in Minneapolis, where he eventually became the driving force behind this influential musical ensemble.

Reflecting on his upbringing, Gary recalls the rich musical heritage that permeated the streets of Minneapolis. “Minneapolis was a jazz mecca,” he reminisces, citing luminaries like Duke Ellington and Count Basie as sources of inspiration. Yet, it was within the close-knit community of Bryant Junior High, now the Sabathani Community Center, that Gary found his true calling amidst a backdrop of musical legacies. 

Drawing parallels with other musical luminaries who emerged from similar backgrounds, Gary emphasized the pivotal role of family influence in shaping his musical journey. Just as Prince’s parents and Jimmy Jam’s parents paved the way for their musical endeavors, Gary’s upbringing was steeped in musical excellence, with his mother, the world-renowned jazz singer Doris Hines, casting a profound influence on his artistic sensibilities. 

The genesis of Sounds of Blackness can be traced back to the transformative years at Macalester College in the early 1970s. Initially founded as the Macalester College Black Voices, the ensemble underwent a metamorphosis under Gary’s leadership, embracing a diverse repertoire that celebrated the spectrum of Black music – from gospel and jazz to blues and hip-hop. 

The journey of Sounds of Blackness is punctuated by significant milestones, from their inaugural album “Images of Blackness” in 1974 to their groundbreaking collaboration with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on “Evolution of Gospel,” which catapulted them to international acclaim. Gary recalls the moment when Janet Jackson, captivated by their soul-stirring performance at the Ordway, declared, “The world needs to hear this right now,” setting the stage for their rise to prominence. 

Gary remains steadfast in his commitment to using music as a catalyst for social change. As the world grapples with pressing issues of racial inequality and injustice, Sounds of Blackness continues to be a voice of hope and resilience, creating new anthems that resonate with the times. 

Looking ahead, Gary envisions a future where Sounds of Blackness continues to transcend boundaries, touring internationally and lending their voices to the global conversation on racial equity.  

Sabathani Community Center is proud to feature Sounds of Blackness as the subject of the first rotating exhibit at Sabathani’s Living History Museum. Among the exhibit items will be photographs, album cover art, costumes, and even one of the Grammy Awards they won, all exemplifying a journey of music, resilience, and cultural legacy that continues to inspire generations. 

At the Sabathani Southside Community Celebration on February 22, this exhibit will be opened and all in attendance will be treated to a performance by Sounds of Blackness as well as the Sabathani Vintage Voices.

Click here to learn more and to reserve your spot today.  

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