River Singers host gospel legend Kathy Bullock in two spring concerts
Dr. Kathy Bullock, a gospel pianist, singer, and conductor from Berea, Ky., co-leads the River Singers concerts with Mary Cay Brass on May 4 at Next Stage.

River Singers host gospel legend Kathy Bullock in two spring concerts

PUTNEY — The 90-member River Singers Community Chorus will perform two dynamic, eclectic concerts of world music on Saturday, May 4, at both 3 and 7:30 p.m., at Next Stage in Putney.

The River Singers, a multi-generational community choir led by Mary Cay Brass, sings a wide variety of community-based music from diverse cultural and musical traditions.

Brass will be joined by guest conductor, singer, and dynamic gospel piano player Kathy Bullock of Berea, Kentucky. Bullock has been a professor of music at Berea College for 27 years where she directs the Black Music Ensemble, a 70-voice choir that specializes in performance of African-American sacred music.

Bullock performs, lectures, and leads workshops in the U.S. and internationally on music and culture of the African diaspora. Having just returned from a European tour, this will be her eighth residency with the River Singers, where she will teach the choir a wide range of thrilling gospel songs that will be performed with the rest of their new repertoire.

The River Singers typically includes songs from Eastern Europe, as that is of particular interest to Brass who, earlier in her career, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the former Yugoslavia.

While leading a Village Harmony Peacebuilding and Music camp in Bosnia last summer, she learned a soulful, beautiful Islamic spiritual song, from a genre called Ilahija, that she has brought to the choir.

This concert will also feature a rousing Serbian Roma song about the joy of singing, dancing, and music and a driving Macedonian love song in 9/8 rhythm that tells a sweet love story.

These songs and others will be accompanied by the choir's rocking Balkan band - Brass on accordion, Walter Slowinski on clarinet, Joe Blumenthal on bass, and Richie Davis on percussion.

Every River Singers concert is a benefit for some global or local project. This spring's concert will benefit the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures Program at the School for International Training in Brattleboro.

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