( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) Paying Homage to Three Black Musical Icons who were Denied Equal Rights – Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holiday
Contributor: LaShonda Thompson
Music has the ability to bring people together. Black artists who sang negro spirituals, hymns, jazz, R&B, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll influenced America’s musical legacy. Andersen Corporation presents “A Celebration of Black Music: Music is the Window to Our Souls,” a virtual musical event premiering on Facebook and at AndersenWindows.com/BlackMusic on June 29 at noon CT.
This inaugural event will take place in the historic Capri Theater in North Minneapolis, which hosted Prince’s first concert in 1979. “A Celebration of Black Music: Music is the Window to Our Souls,” musical is sponsored by Andersen Corporation, the maker of America’s most popular brand of windows and doors*, and is executive produced by the award-winning Rae Mackenzie Group, an industry-leading diversity, equity, and inclusion business, and directed by Minnesota State Senator Bobby Joe Champion.
The program pays homage to three Black music icons who were denied equal rights during their careers: Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holiday. On display will be the talents of award-winning Minneapolis musicians Lawrence Miles, Jamecia Bennett, and Thomasina Petrus. Darnell Davis serves as musical director.
”In a year that put systemic racism and inequities within our own community in the national spotlight, we turn to music to heal, connect and build cultural bridges with one another,” said Chris Galvin, president of the Andersen Division of Andersen Corporation. “Together with our employees, we are thrilled to have Andersen play a role in bringing much-deserved attention to Black Music Month.”
As the leader of talent acquisition and inclusion at Andersen, Tracey Gibson, vice president and chief diversity officer, calls the program an inclusive community-building opportunity that employers can share with their employees. “‘A Celebration of Black Music: Music is the Window to Our Souls’ honors individuals who devoted their art and their lives toward making America a better place for all. The program showcases what Black music means to the very culture and fabric of America,” Gibson said.
Tracey Gibson, vice president and chief diversity officer at Andersen, describes the initiative as an inclusive community-building opportunity that businesses may share with their employees in her role as the company’s head of talent acquisition and inclusion.
A Minnesota-based company for nearly 120 years, Andersen was named a Forbes Best Employer for Diversity 2021 and is a founding partner of the People Of Color Careers Social Hiring Network. Andersen continually works to build a culture of inclusion, creating a respectful workplace for all employees and removing systemic barriers to success.
“It’s so refreshing to partner with a client like Andersen Corporation, which understands the impact it has in the Black community when they selected a venue that is as meaningful and symbolic as the Capri Theater”, Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, CEO of the Rae Mackenzie Group and founder of People of Color Careers Social Hiring Network™, said. It’s exciting to be in Minneapolis and have the cream of the crop of local talent to help us create an uplifting program that brings us all together to celebrate Black Music Month.”
As a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) marketing expert on the national stage, Smith-Akinsanya has long held Andersen Corporation as an example of what a corporation can accomplish when it prioritizes inclusion in every aspect of the company. “Andersen leads out loud when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion,” she continued. “Change only happens when leaders embrace change. Thankfully, we have corporations like Andersen that are committed to growth.”