SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego has filled the community with music, funded dreams, and kept African American history alive for three decades.
The group started with a local alliance of ministers from different denominations who came together for an annual concert to raise funds for students aspiring to a career in visual and performing arts, according to the choir director Kenneth Anderson.
"I think they are woefully undervalued in our country the power of art and how it can connect and communicate and bring people together when we're so driven apart," 20-year choir member Dale Fleming said.
In 1990, the singers decided to created the MLK Community Choir so they could sing year-round.
Andersen said, "It was non-audition but somehow all of these different timbres and levels of musicianship come together to make a beautiful sound."
The religious tone of the group has changed over the years.
"Some don't really believe at all but we all believe in the power of music," Fleming said.
They still sing gospel, and write their own hymns to keep Black history alive.
"A majority of the spirituals that survived were code songs. When they sang about leaders in the bible, especially Moses, but Jesus and God, that was code for Harriet Tubman," Anderson explained.
The group has flourished, touring through seven countries, creating and selling CDs, even singing for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 2004. You may have also seen them at December Nights.
"He was alive the next year but not well enough to come out, so we ended up being at his last Easter mass," Anderson said.
The next time they perform is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 at St. James by the Sea in La Jolla.