Violinist Diane Monroe and her jazz quartet, along with guest vocalist Paul Jost and guitarist Monnette Sudley, will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through song, reviving passionate music from the Civil Rights Movement at the Lyric Theatre on Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.

The performance, which is part of Virginia Tech’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, is presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech in partnership with the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

“What is This Thing Called Freedom? The Transforming and Timeless Songs of Protest,” will feature perennial pieces from artists such as Bob Dylan (“Blowin’ in the Wind”), Joni Mitchell (“The Fiddle and the Drum”), Billie Holiday (“Strange Fruit”), and Billy Taylor (“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”).

Protest songs embrace many different genres of music including jazz, folk, and rock, and have lasting relevance.  Monroe has handpicked and arranged the music for the project and, along with her accompanying musicians and vocalist, will reinvent these songs through the lens of modern jazz.

Monroe has incorprorated meaningful, community-inspired nuances to complement her visit. She will premiere a new song on the Lyric stage inspired by Virginia Tech Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni. She has composed a special piece, which will blend the words of Giovanni’s “The Self-Evident Poem” from her book, “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea,” with Monroe’s musical stylings.

“As a teenager, I was not only seriously moved and inspired by Nikki Giovanni’s writings, but her openness in speaking the truths of being black in America,” said Monroe. “Her messages of self-love comforted me personally, made me proud to be an African American woman, and encouraged me to connect with my own creative voice.”

In addition to her evening performance, Monroe will work closely with elementary school-aged participants involved with the Virginia Tech String Project and lead a master class with students in Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts and Cinema.

Trained as a classical violinist, Monroe bridges the worlds of classical and jazz music, performing as a classical solo and chamber artist, as well as with various jazz ensembles and acclaimed artists such as Percy Heath, John Blake, Dave Grusin, Joe Lovano, and Wycliff Gordon.

Virginia Tech’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration includes a collection of events scheduled for the week of Jan. 20 to 26 to honor King’s legacy of service, education, and nonviolent social change.


Tickets for the Diane Monroe performance are $20 for general public, $16 for seniors and Virginia Tech faculty and staff, and $10 for students and youth 18 years old and under. They can be purchased online; at the Lyric Theatre box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; or by calling 540-951-4771.



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