36th annual King Day Gospel Concert & KVMR Celebration on Jan. 15 | SierraSun.com

36th annual King Day Gospel Concert & KVMR Celebration on Jan. 15

Special to the Sun
Members of the Bethel AME Church Choir of Marysville and the local Trinity Community Chorus joined forces for the KVMR Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Gospel Concert last year at the Nevada Theatre. This year's 36th concert is Monday at noon.

Talk about a community tradition, well, this is one that truly lives on, from the early 1980s until now.

For the, yup, 36th year, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Choir of Marysville will make their yearly trek to Nevada City this Monday for KVMR 89.5 FM’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Gospel Concert.

It’ll feature a free noon performance at the Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, downtown Nevada City, with a live broadcast on KVMR. Later, at 6 p.m., the Nevada City community radio station will broadcast an hour of Monday’s concert highlights (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).

And for the sixth consecutive year, the local Trinity Community Chorus will join the Marysville choir to perform in memory of the legendary civil rights leader.

“It (the concert) literally falls together each year,” said event producer Paul Emery. “We’ll have 40 to 60 people on stage, with the choirs, a small band with drums, bass, guitar and keyboards.”

According to Emery, a favorite part of each year occurs when “the choirs, the audience, everybody sings at the same time. It is gospel music and it’s meant to be sung.”


No surprise, but a musical highlight each year is the classic civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome,” with the audience swaying and often holding hands.

“We’ve still got to sing it,” said one 30-year Bethel choir veteran. “We must keep the fight going.”

Zenobia Brown, the longtime Bethel choir director, grew up in New Orleans with such a love for Dr. King that her parents took her to the “I Have A Dream” March on Washington speech in 1963.

“That’s exactly the kind of thing Martin Luther King dreamed of,” said Trinity Community Chorus director Stan Thomas-Rose. “He wanted people of all races to join together, not to be separate.”

“It’s an incredible inspiration that something like this has such an important place in Nevada County,” said Thomas-Rose. “We (the chorus) feel we’ve become a part of it. I was just a little kid in the civil rights era, and now I feel a part of it.”

“And this concert has put the holiday on the map in our little white county,” he said with a chuckle. “Now King Day has a sizable presence here.”

Emery also enjoys how the music “goes back and forth between the two choirs” and how the concert has become “a blend of the two.”

“And the Nevada Theatre just resonates with the joy of this music,” he added. “Everybody leaves just feeling good.”


KVMR 89.5 FM will broadcast King-related programming and music all day, including a round-up of regional King Day events on The Morning Show (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.).

At 9 a.m., the station will air “King Stories,” a one hour documentary of captivating stories told by close friends and associates of Dr. King. Host Julian Bond, along with insiders — including Ralph Abernathy, the late Dick Gregory, Mark Lane, David Garrow and Larry Williams share rarely known stories about the person and private sides of King.

Included are stories about Dr. King’s precocious teenage years, followed by close-ups of behind the scenes accounts of day-to-day life on the road marching and protesting for American black civil rights, plus a moving account of King’s last conversation just minutes before he was struck down by a sniper’s bullet.

Following the live broadcast of the noon gospel concert, KVMR will broadcast a special King-themed music show hosted by Sacramento Blues Hall of Fame member and KVMR volunteer broadcaster Derek Washington (1:30 to 4 p.m.).


As part of KVMR’s special coverage of this weekend’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Elisa Parker will again broadcast live from the festival’s media reception this Friday 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).

She’s already been known to gather up and interview a dozen — often more — of festival special guests, producers, actors, with the goal of giving as many festival films radio exposure in the live remote broadcast from the Nevada City Winery.

And KVMR’s Friday Night News will air at 6:30 p.m. to allow Parker to squeeze in those last guests.

On The Air is a weekly irreverent look at Nevada City’s volunteer-driven, eclectic community radio station at 89.5 FM and streaming at kvmr.org. Complete KVMR schedule available at the station’s website, http://www.kvmr.org. The station now features an easy-to-use archive of all music shows for two weeks and talk shows for two months at archive.kvmr.org.

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