Social justice + music: U-M Glee Club on Detroit Public Television
In June 2016, Detroit Public Television premiered “Love, Life & Loss,” a music documentary featuring the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club performing “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” by Joel Thompson and “Glory” by John Legend and Common, from the film “Selma.”
Produced by Michigan Media at the University of Michigan, this short film focuses on the Michigan Men’s Glee Club and conductor Eugene Rogers, associate director of choirs and professor of conducting at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, as they perform and discuss a new work that addresses issues of race and social justice.
Inspired by Iranian-American artist Shirin Barghi’s #lastwords project, “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” is a choral work of seven short movements that features the dying words of unarmed black men.
“We knew from the minute we saw this powerful film that it was something that needed to be shared with our viewers.”
– Fred Nahhat, senior vice president of production, Detroit Public Television
Rogers said that “Seven Last Words” challenged his students—who represent various ages, races, religions, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds—to see the world through the eyes of others.
“I am really proud of the way that they opened themselves up to this experience. I was very conflicted about presenting this piece, because I did not want it to be misinterpreted purely as a political statement. In the end, we listened to each other and we grew together through song,” he adds.