Giving Back: MSA alum returning to perform benefit concert

Published 7:07 pm Friday, August 9, 2013

A Mississippi School of the Arts graduate is returning to Brookhaven next week to stage a benefit concert for the school’s choir.

Vocalists Ezekiel McCall, an MSA alumni, and Angel Butler will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, in the Mary Jane Lampton Auditorium on the school’s campus.

The program, titled “Conversations: A musical tete-a-tete,” is free and the public is invited. Refreshments will be served after the program.

Butler and McCall said they wanted to keep it free and then pass the hat for donations to the school choir.

“No ticket sales,” Butler said. “That’s because we wanted students to be able to enjoy the concert and we wanted as many people in the community to come as possible, too.”

Butler said the concert will have something to offer all ages, and it will be a great learning experience.

“We’re covering everything – opera, jazz, spirituals, musical theater and classical artists,” Butler said. She said they’ll cover artists such as Strauss, Mozart, Rogers & Hammerstein and Frank Sinatra.

The setting will be a relaxed one, she said, conducive to conversations about music.

“We want to be able to communicate with the audience about the songs we are doing,” Butler said. “So it will be an educational event, also.”

The choir from the arts school makes a trip bi-annually to perform in New York at Carnegie Hall. McCall is a 2006 graduate of MSA and remembers the trip being expensive, but one that is important in the lives of these local young artists.

“I remember going in 2006,” McCall said. “And I remember how hard we had to slave over fund raisers to get the money we needed. New York is amazing. The trip was a big eye opener – it changed my life. It was after that trip that I knew I wanted to be a performer.”

McCall is originally from Greenwood. He was a vocal performance major at MSA, and after graduation, he did his undergraduate work at Mississippi College in Clinton in vocal performance.

He is currently working on his master’s degree in vocal performance at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

McCall said the classical music scene in Mississippi is somewhat small and they see a lot of the same people at concerts and competitions. It was at a competition in Clinton that McCall met Butler, who is originally from Florence. Butler is also studying vocal performance.

She is an undergrad at the University of Southern Mississippi studying under Maryann Kyle. The pair became good friends with the love of music in common.

This summer McCall found out the MSA choir would be going to New York in January. That’s when he asked his friend if she might be interested in doing the benefit concert.

“I wanted to come back here to my high school to do a little giving back,” McCall said. “This school means a lot to me and it is an incredible place to grow and learn.

“I found out that they are going to New York this year, and I’m getting my career of the ground, so, this was a double blessing, to come back and sing here and help them get the funding they need for New York,” he continued.

Donations made to the school are tax-deductible and can be made to the Mississippi School of the Arts Foundation. Several options for giving are available; for more details, visit the website at www.msa.k12.ms.us.

Gifts can be mailed to the MSA Foundation at P.O. Box 229, Brookhaven, MS 39602-0229, or by calling the school’s executive director Suzanne Hirsch for more information on giving, (601) 823-1555.