ST. LOUIS — Powerful and diverse voices ring loudly from Powell Hall stage on Monday nights.
The IN UNISON Chorus, which is linked with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra through its diversity outreach, is dedicated to staying true and authentic to the music.
Kevin McBeth, Director of the IN UNISON Chorus says, "We primarily specify and specialize in African-American composers and music of African cultures."
It started with five partner churches 27 years ago and now, it has a partnership with 33 predominantly African-American churches in greater St. Louis.
"It gives us as much as we feel it gives back to other people," McBeth said.
Stanley Johnson is a bass member and he's just one of the 100 men and women dedicated to the music.
"We lift the music off the paper and it turns it into a story," Johnson says.
The talented group fine-tunes and preps for its upcoming performances, such as its Black History Month Celebration at the end of February.
Plus, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra just received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to continue showcasing Black artists.
With this money, for the first time in a decade, the IN UNISON group will join the orchestra for a classical concert in May.
McBeth says, "It will help us in the process of this commission piece."
"It's crucial that if we see ourselves and perform in places like Powell Hall, where we can showcase the musical excellence every rehearsal," Johnson tells 5 On Your Side.
More than ever, McBeth says it is important to come together now after the world shutdown during COVID.
"We discovered how important that time is and how fragile it is that it can go away and how important is to have this opportunity. We are happy to be back in the hall, even if it's masked. I've said to them, I'd rather hear them in masks, rather than not have them at all. A lot of the chorus members say Monday night is their therapy because it gives them so much to be on stage," McBeth says.
Now, back in front of an audience, the sounds are meant to inspire. Johnson's son has joined the chorus.
"He said dad, one day I want to be on that stage!" Johnson said.
Now, they open the invitation up to others.
"There is a place for you here," Johnson said.
The process requires an audition, but there are all walks of life here. The stage is big enough for all.
"Just help us get the word out, there aren’t a lot of people who know the IN UNION program. We hope some people will discover who we are for the first time," McBeth adds.
If you'd like to see them in action the "IN UNISON" Chorus is hosting a performance for Black History Month on Feb. 25.
It's called "Lift Every Voice" and it will celebrate different types of genres, including the legacy of Aretha Franklin.
To get tickets, click here.