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Are You Ready for… #BlackLivesMatter–the a Cappella Version?

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Award-winning, Oakland-based high school a cappella group “Vocal Rush” is finding inspiration in the #BlackLivesMatter protests that have rocked the city’s streets over the past several months.

The students dedicated their performance at the International Championships of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) singing competition this May to #BlackLivesMatter…and they won.

The 11 student singers from the Oakland School for the Arts channeled Kanye West by singing “Lost in the World” and Mumford and Son’s “Awake My Soul” to give voice to their sentiments over the shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the death Eric Garner in New York last year, according to Bay Area public radio station KQED.

“Never underestimate a group of teenagers. Some of these kids have a lot more courage than a lot of adults I know,” Lisa Forkish, founder and director of Vocal Rush and Oakland School for the Arts vocal music teacher, told KQED.

Forkish also  told KQED that her students were the ones to push for the discussion about race, identity and their role in the world, which led to the “Black Lives Matter” musical theme.

Many professional artists have voiced their personal opinions about the recent confrontations with police. In April, a number of openly liberal cast members performing in a new play named Ferguson in Los Angeles, whose script was a literal reading of the grand jury proceedings, quit the show rather than re-enact what actually happened in the exchange between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown.

According to grand jury testimony, Brown never had his hands up, as was suggested in nationwide protests at the time. The group evidently uses the “hands up, don’t shoot” posture in its performances.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.


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