Life Music Series celebrates Black Culture Awareness Week

Souls of Liberty headlined this year’s Life Music Series.

The Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center’s Black Culture Awareness Week wrapped up Friday night in The Shack with its Life Music Series.

Life Music Series events always feature one artist and other student acts. The St. Louis-based duo Souls of Liberty took the stage as the headlining act following three student groups and one graduate.

Souls of Liberty was founded by MU graduate Ryan Brown, who goes by the stage name Ryan Escobar, and former MU student and lifelong friend Tenelle Donta in 2009.

“We started writing songs in the third and fourth (grades) when coming home on the bus,” Brown said.

The group’s third “unofficial member” and executive producer Chris Klevah joined around the time the band was working on its third project. The group has performed from all over Missouri to New York City.

The duo’s name is derived from the American Revolutionary group Sons of Liberty.

“Even though they’re not here anymore, what they stood for still is,” Brown said.

Souls of Liberty‘s Life Music Series debut was last year. They were invited to come back to perform at MU this time as the headliners.

Freshman Christopher Herron said he heard about the Life Music Series from a friend. He had never heard of Souls of Liberty before Friday night.

“I liked them,” Herron said. “They definitely kept me interested (in the event).”

Life Music Series played a key role in the BCC’s Black Culture Awareness Week.

“This week is all about educating the campus and the community about black culture,” BCC Graduate Assistant Marcus Mayes said. “This ties in music … a lively part of black culture. Traditionally, Life Music Series has been a Neo-Soul/R&B-type of event.”

The evening’s set consisted of five performances: Hip Hop CTV, MU Alumnus RVS, Shea and Charlie Parker, Landalin and Souls of Liberty. These acts were able to expose a lot of MU’s talent that wouldn’t otherwise be showcased, Mayes said.

“We want (MU’s students) to get involved,” Mayes said.

Hip Hop CTV is a student freestyle rap group. The four-person group has performed all over Columbia in venues such as The Blue Note, Mojo’s and Roxy’s.

“We want to give back to the community through our music,” founding member Lorenzo Boyice said.

Senior Savannah Shea Givens was another featured student talent. Givens has performed in several Life Music Series events over the duration of her college career. She took part in this Black Culture Awareness Week event not just to showcase her talent but to also show her appreciation for the culture.

“(Black Culture Awareness Week) is extremely important if not just for the culture itself but for the awareness,” Givens said. “It’s open to all students so … maybe they can gain some interest or insight on things that they might not have known before.”

This is the first of three Life Music Series events that will happen during the 2013-14 academic year. The remaining two events will be hosted March 8, during Women’s History Month, and April 26.

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