by Sheilah Belle
On Sunday, August 28th – 48 years after he gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech before 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a national monument will be dedicated to fallen civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.
Thousands are pouring into Washington, D.C. for a week of events leading up to the unveiling ceremony where President Obama will speak Sunday morning. Legendary soul singer, Shirley Murdock (best known for her 1986 gold-selling classic, “As We Lay”), is coming to the nation’s capitol to sing her new radio hit “Dream” (from her forthcoming CD “Live: The Journey”) at two official Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication events. The powerhouse vocalist will be backed by The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication Choir at the Pre-Dedication Concert Ceremony (also featuring Patti LaBelle, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jennifer Holliday, Donnie McClurkin and Mary Mary) taking place 9-11 a.m. EST on the National Mall.
Later that day, Murdock will be backed by the “Sing For A King” Community Choir as she performs “Dream” at the Lift Every Voice Gospel Extravaganza taking place 4-6 p.m. EST at the Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. That event features The Sounds of Blackness, Bryan Wilson, Earnest Pugh and the Duke Ellington High School of the Arts Students and Orchestra.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication Choir was birthed through a partnership of Desho Productions and NEWorks Productions. Music Director, Rev. Nolan Williams Jr., assembled a multi-generational, multi-racial group of vocalists that will sing Williams’ composition “I Am The Dream” during the pre-service and “We Shall Overcome” at the unveiling program where President Obama will speak.
Coming to Washington to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy is important to Murdock who vividly recalls the day he was assassinated. “I was almost 11 yrs old,” she recalls. “I remember all the adults being absolutely grief stricken, as if a family member had died. There was a lot of hurt, disbelief and anger after Dr. King died.
My Mother was a praying woman, so as she placed her worries into God’s hands, I drew my peace from her peace. I heard him being referred to, as the `Moses’ of our time. Like Moses, he didn’t make it to the promised land, but he let us know he’d been to the mountaintop and that his eyes had seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Murdock and her husband, Dale DeGroat, wrote her new radio hit “Dream” (#33 on BDS) with celebrated evangelist, Bishop T.D. Jakes. “My song is a reminder that God is the giver and the fulfiller of all the dreams He places in our hearts,” she says.
“The dream is a glimpse of our future selves being more and doing more. It’s us at our BEST…fulfilling our PURPOSE…to loving one another, serving one another…celebrating and embracing our diversity and uniqueness.”