SARASOTA, FL – In October 2019, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Key Chorale came together for an exuberant collaboration with “American Roots: The Gospel Experience.” The arts organizations explored the rich tradition of Black gospel music in America through three sold-out performances at churches in Sarasota and Venice.
The October 19th performance at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key was filmed and will now be presented virtually on WBTT’s website through November 1.
The third offering in the Key Chorale’s American Roots series, this edition brought together two of Sarasota’s most renowned performing arts groups, weaving the spirited style of WBTT’s singers, dancers and musicians with the soaring choral harmonies of the Key Chorale Chamber Singers. The high-energy performance celebrates the deeply emotional music and movement at the heart of African American worship. Highlights include “Amazing Grace,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Oh Happy Day” and “Wade in the Water.”
“It was truly a thrill to be able to put a program of this magnitude together – in partnership with the skilled singers of the Key Chorale – and perform it in area churches,” said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “Gospel music was born in churches, where African Americans could find release from the pressures of everyday life. This music played a huge role in the cultural experience of the African American community but I think all viewers will find the themes to be relatable and inspirational.”
“This collaboration provided a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in a genre that has the ability to empower us, transport us, and raise our spirits unlike any other. Performing spirituals and gospel music with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was a dream come true,” said Maestro Joseph Caulkins of Key Chorale. “The combination of Key Chorale’s great singers, and WBTT’s incredible performers, was an emotional and uplifting experience that community members of all ages won’t want to miss.”
Sponsors for “American Roots: The Gospel Experience” included the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Shelley & Sy Goldblatt.
Tickets to watch the two-hour streaming video are $25 per household; patrons will receive a 24-hour viewing pass that can be activated any time during the streaming run. To purchase access, go to wbtt.org; information also available at keychorale.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional Black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. Its mission is to produce professional theater that promotes and celebrates the African American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African American youth. For more information, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.
About Key Chorale
Key Chorale, the Suncoast’s premier symphonic chorus, is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative programming, artistic excellence, educational outreach and service to the community. Key Chorale, led by Joseph Caulkins, produces high quality collaborative musical events that engage and enrich our community. Dynamic collaborations abound as they take you to unexpected places exploring almost every corner of choral music in unique one-of-a-kind concert experiences. Through dynamic collaborations with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, The Sarasota Ballet, The Venice Symphony, and The Circus Arts Conservatory, Key Chorale is able to create unforgettable programs that continue to push the boundaries of choral music. For more information, visit KeyChorale.org or facebook.com/KeyChorale.