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Sounds of Blackness performs at UAlbany

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To conclude Black History month, the University at Albany hosted the Grammy award-winning musical ensemble, Sounds of Blackness, at Page Hall at the Downtown Campus on Saturday, Feb. 27. Despite the winter blues and cold weather, the auditorium was filled by warmth and energy with inviting music that ranged from African songs to gospels to spirituals to rhythm and blues.

“This is the Sounds of Blackness first performance here in Albany at the university under President, former Sounds of Blackness member, Dr. Robert Jones. We’re so proud of him and we are just so honored to be here. This audience was amazing; everything from their energy to their sing-along, their spirit, and we can’t wait to come back,” said Gary Hines, the director of Sounds of Blackness. Hines wore a royal West African, Nigerian and Ghanaian cloth – a binding tie between us connecting the continents ancestrally and spiritually.

The group was formed at Gary Hines’ alma mater, Macalester College, where the ensemble began.

“We always have that academic connection. When they brought me on as director, really the vision that God gave me was to continue the tradition like Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington and when you hear those names you think of jazz, blues and we should. They would say, ‘I do the music of my people,’” Hines said.

“The music is in all of us, sounds of blackness, the black music that we sing, all genres of black music bring that out in the people we perform it for. That’s what makes it all worth it, it’s healing music, it’s inspiring music, it’s honoring as you have experienced tonight,” said Sherice Jones, one of the singers for Sounds of Blackness.

Jones surprised the audience and joined in on the last two song numbers with Sounds of Blackness, his former group of which he was once a member.

“We were hoping he would and when he went up there, that just made the evening, it was just tremendous definitely,” said Roberto Vives, director of the track and field and cross country programs. “This was an excellent performance.”

“Once a Sounds member, always a Sounds member and you just never know when you’ll be called up on stage to perform,” Sherice Jones said.

“I told them I wasn’t gonna dig tonight but Lorissa came and insisted, then I got caught in the moment. I’m glad I did, it was for my soul, I enjoyed it, I miss these folks a lot,” said Jones. “That represented 30 years of my life, singing.”

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