Teaching Artist Tekelia Kelly Celebrates MLK Jr. Holiday With March On With A Song

  • Monday, January 18, 2016
Tekelia Kelly sings for National Civil Rights Museum's Commemorative Choir and March On CD in 1993
Tekelia Kelly sings for National Civil Rights Museum's Commemorative Choir and March On CD in 1993

Tekelia Kelly brings to life history with her new stage performance "March On With A Song"- a singing, storytelling and multimedia technology presentation that is "edu-taining."  The one-year Teaching Artist with the Tennessee Arts Commission integrates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education along with entertainment, to take education enrichment to a whole new level, said officials.  

"I like to integrate art and technology into my teaching and performing," said Ms. Kelly.  "I design my arts-integration and artist residency programs to be educationally enriching, empowering and entertaining.  I want people to have a unique, one-of-a-kind, catalytic human learning experience." 

A three-tiered version of her program was requested by Hamilton County's Allen Elementary school for kindergarten-first, second-third and fourth-fifth grade students.  The show debuted Friday in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday.   Designed to correlate with school standards and the current curriculum covered in classroom, Ms. Kelly's delivered content centered on the Civil Rights Movement: teaching about mankind, marching, music, and the meaning of the vote, all in the context of our country's efforts to "form a more perfect union".  Highlights of the program included Ms. Kelly's personal stories along with pictures about her direct encounters with Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates and Sheyann Webb.  

Ms. Kelly volunteered with the National Civil Rights Museum during her stay in Memphis.  Her first involvement came in 1991 when asked to audition for the museum's commemorative choir being formed as part of a special dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Lorraine Motel -National Civil Rights Museum, which is the place where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.  

As part of the museum's grand opening celebration and commemorative ceremony, Ms. Kelly had the pleasure of being in the company of Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates and Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers, along with Morgan Freeman, Blair Underwood, Cybil Shepherd and Governor Bill Clinton.  She sang with the National Civil Rights Museum Choir during the Sunday morning service at Mason Temple before Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rev. Jesse Jackson, as well as Blair Underwood, Sybil Shepherd, Patti Austin and Raven Symone. 

Ms. Kelly continued her work with the museum, including singing with the NCRM choir in 1993, under the direction of O'lander Draper for special events like the Freedom Awards, where she would sing for  honorees such as Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Desmund Tutu, and Barbara Jordan.  She also recorded on the museum's "March On" CD under the direction of Sanchez Harley.  Two of the tracks performed during the Allen Elementary program were:  "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" and the Negro National Anthem "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing". 

"I have always enjoyed performing for children in schools," said Ms. Kelly.  "I feel like I take away so much with me when I perform and teach children.  The children running up to me after the show is over to give me  big hugs; sharing with me how they have worked on a project in class related to something I covered in my performance; asking me about the people I know;  singing with me during the program, and singing to me afterwards like the wonderful children at Allen Elementary whose song about Martin Luther King was in the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"--are all so precious to me...it's priceless.  The resounding hand claps from children and praises from teachers all just bless my heart." 

The "March On With A Song" program performed for Allen Elementary is the second in Ms. Kelly's theme-show line-up under her "History Revived" series.  The program was made possible with a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.   Her first and inaugural theme "The Transforming Power of Music" debuted at DuPont Elementary school in 2014 and was also performed at Thelma Barker Elementary school in Jackson, Tennessee in 2015.

For booking and more information, visit www.tekeliakelly.com; email tekeliakelly@comcast.net or visit Tekelia Kelly's Teaching Artist page at the Tennessee Arts Commission website here

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