Celebrating Juneteenth: It's time to get out there and dance - Albuquerque Journal

Celebrating Juneteenth: It’s time to get out there and dance

Gabrielle Jackson, Toni Morgan, Dr. Steve Springer, James Douglas and Samantha Harris, from left, at a rehearsal for the Juneteenth show. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)
Gabrielle Jackson, Toni Morgan, Dr. Steve Springer, James Douglas and Samantha Harris, from left, at a rehearsal for the Juneteenth show. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Cathryn McGill enjoys being able to give the community something new. In fact, she lives for it.

“We have so many talented people in the area, it’s astounding,” she says. “This is what inspires me to keep coming up with projects.”

McGill is curating the “Whole Lotta’ Rhythm Goin’ Down: A Juneteenth Freedom Concert.” The event will feature nearly 30 musicians and is in celebration of Juneteenth.

Two and a half years (more than 900 days) after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Gen. Gordon Granger rode in to Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to deliver the good news via General Order No. 3. Although the news was decidedly very late, the notification prompted what is now known as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery.

Although Juneteenth has never been recognized as a national holiday, it is celebrated widely in the United States – especially in the South, McGill says.

“The event is not so much about recalling the historic event,” she says. “But about the current building of community and expressing joy and celebration.”

McGill says to get it done, she had to make what seemed like a “hundred million” phone calls. Yet, despite all the work, she’s happy to be doing the project.

“Presenting the community with something new is always a challenge,” she says. “And I’m up to it. We are presenting well known community members. We’re also debuting some hidden gems of performers.”

Some of the performers include Toni Morgan, a former background vocalist for Gladys Knight, Michael Herndon, Lowell Burton, the Rainbow Studio Theater Wiz Kidz, Dr. Finnie Coleman, Dr. Stevie Springer and Rosalind Sanders Jones.

McGill says the first portion of the show is about the historical music and how Juneteenth came to be.

“Then there’s pure get-out-there-and-dance time,” she says. “The musicians created some original content, too. We have a deep bench of talent, which we can present to people for many years to come. We’d love to continue this and get it bigger and better.”


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