As we celebrate ‘Black History Month in October’, Methodist Central Hall, Westminster is to hold a special ‘Jazz Vespers’ event on Sunday, 25th October at 6.30pm to commemorate the historic visit to the Hall by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The service will explore suffering, lament and a new hope, echoing themes that Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave in a speech to the Berlin Jazz Festival, shortly after his visit to Methodist Central Hall, Westminster in 1964.
In his speech about Jazz Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. Jazz is triumphant music… Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.’
The ‘Jazz Vespers’ service has been put together by saxophonist Dan Forshaw, who has led jazz services at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Ely Cathedral in the past year. Forshaw, who is the saxophone tutor for Cambridge University, was approached by the Deputy Superintendent of Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, the Revd Tony Miles. Dan said, ‘It is such an honour to be able to lead a ‘Jazz Vespers’ service at somewhere as historic as Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. The fact that Dr Martin Luther King Jr spoke here just a few days before he delivered his seminal speech on jazz at the Berlin Jazz Festival is quite an amazing coincidence. Revd Tony Miles said, ‘We are delighted to have ‘Jazz Vespers’ as part of our programme of ‘Gatherings’ here at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. We are expecting this to be an inspiring, moving and informative act of worship to which all are welcome.’
Actor Darren Raymond will be bringing Dr Martin Luther King ‘back’ to Central Hall by reading a number of King’s reflections. Acclaimed jazz singer Juliet Kelly will be joining Dan alongside Alison Beck and Erica Jarnes (vocals), Chris Grey (piano), Joel Humann (bass) and Richard Morgan (drums).
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