In the Swahili language, umoja kamaru means "a celebration of togetherness." At Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, it means just a little bit more. For the past nine years, MBCC has used Umoja to describe a series of original multimedia performances, which emphasize qualities like courage and faith as they recount various aspects of the African-American journey through dance and song. Though often described as a "Broadway-like" spectacle, Umoja features a giant cast of 400 actors, singers, dancers, and musicians, dwarfing even the biggest shows on the Great White Way.
Directed by actress and writer Florence Roach, Umoja 2008 will include new material inspired by the American civil rights movement and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Emmy-nominated dancer Howard PHeelgooD has choreographed Umoja. PHeelgooD is a native Memphian who began his career in show business doing a James Brown impersonation at Liberty Land. He has since worked with performers such as Diana Ross, Cher, Patti Labelle, Debbie Allen, Janet Jackson, and Mary J. Blige. PHeelgooD is also responsible for creating Menagerie: The Rhythms of Life, the first kids' show to play the Las Vegas strip.
"Umoja" runs Friday-Sunday, March 7th-9th, at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 on the day of the event. For additional information, call 729-6222.