Arts & Humanities

Athens Music Project event scheduled for March 21

Athens Music Project, an interdisciplinary research initiative of the University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music, will present “A Night at the Morton: Soul Celebration” March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Morton Theatre, 195 W. Washington St.

Theodis Ealey will headline Athens Music Project’s “A Night at the Morton: Soul Celebration” on March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Morton Theatre.

The interactive performance event, supported by a Public Impact Grant from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, is the third installment of this biannual program organized and directed by UGA music professors Jean Ngoya Kidula and Susan Thomas. Sponsors include the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, the Institute for African American Studies and the Morton Theatre.

The program is designed for music lovers of all ages and backgrounds. 

Embraced as a lifestyle, passion, musical genre and label, soul will be explored through interviews, performances and audience interaction.

“Soul as a way of testifying is at once religious and sacred, secular and profane, reverent and irreverent, social and political, personal and communal. It is celebration, observation, contemplation and even lamentation,” said Kidula, professor of music and ethnomusicology. “The testimony resounds locally, nationally and globally. As such, it transcends its African-American inception and American ­mainstream appropriation; it is spoken far and wide.”

The headliner for the event is rhythm and blues legend Theodis Ealey, currently residing in Stone Mountain. His band director, jazz guitarist Victor Hodge, will open the segment.

Other artists include soul-pop singer Ansley Stewart, an Athens native now living in Atlanta; Athens community group The Notes; and UGA Kalakaar, an a cappella student group. 

Jacqueline DjeDje, emeritus professor and chair of ethnomusicology at UCLA (originally from Jesup), will interview renowned gospel singer Sylvanus “Zeke” Turner, a native of Athens. Turner’s subsequent performance and that of the Hull Family Singers of Hill Chapel Baptist Church will demonstrate the prominent role and ethos emanating from gospel music in the foundation, structure, practice and message of soul.

The array of performers and interviews will present salient examples of foundational co-genres and sub-genres of soul, demonstrate several mainstream industrialized iterations of soul and display soul’s posterity in historical, contemporary and global music statements.

The event is open free to the public, but tickets are required for admission. Tickets may be picked up at the Morton Theatre during business hours, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3-6 p.m. Tickets also may be reserved by emailing or calling 706-613-3771.