FORT WAYNE—On June 29, Unity Performing Arts Foundation (UNITY) is scheduled to present what organizers say its biggest and most innovative summer production ever. Many have asked: “What makes this production so special?” This concert is a tribute to the late Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, entitled “Alive Again.” Imagine, an evening of electrifying singing, dancing and speech, all presented by talent from right here in Fort Wayne.
The tribute event is scheduled to be held At 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m., June 29 at Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.
The concert will feature Fort Wayne’s own World Champion Voices of Unity Youth Choir under the direction of Marshall White, dancers from Sheekristyle Dance Studio as well as soloists including professional recording artists Wayne Starks, Niyoki Nero and Mikki White. Other soloists include UNITY alumni, Matt Griffin, Breaun Scott and many others.
UNITY officials said the lives and music of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston offer a grand window into the fruits of uncommon talent, perseverance and insight, as well as the struggles to maintain balance in an often-difficult world.
Marshall White, Voices of Unity music director and CEO of parent organization Unity Performing Arts Foundation, said, “Presenting a production that requires this level of artistic genius is a serious stretch for youth, but it is not impossible with the collective energy and talents of all who are involved.”
The choir members were required to study biographies and watch documentaries on the lives of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston during the planning of this tribute. Exposing the youth to their lives and to the power of their music helped drive home the importance for them to achieve artistic excellence for this concert.
“It is our hope, as the organization moves forward, more people in the community will embrace our artistic programming and youth development platform and join us in our artistic goal of providing quality entertainment for the entire family. You will have the experience of your life on the night of this concert. You will be mesmerized with the talent that exists in our great city,” said White.
Veronica Townes, the creative coordinator for the production, said, “The Voices of Unity members and other local talent have invested many hours of hard work and practice to present a show that will honor the legacy of both artists. In order to breathe new life and restore a fresh appreciation of teamwork and unity during such a turbulent disconnected time in our own community, these young people decided to do something fun and different. From Thriller to I Wanna Dance with Somebody, I’m sure you will experience something that reminds you of a happy and exciting time in your life. A time when you were happy just because.”
Unity Performing Arts Foundation (UNITY), is a fully supported community arts organization founded in 2000 by Marshall White and several other members of the Fort Wayne community. UNITY is a comprehensive artistic concept that brings singing, dancing, creative writing, drama, oratory, and instrumental music under one umbrella.
UNITY has been very successful in filling a local artistic void, which has existed for years in the community. The organization has not only attracted many minorities but also youth from more than 20 zip codes and cities in both Illinois and Ohio. UNITY has become a place for all young people, no matter their cultural, racial, artistic, religious, social or economic background. Late last fall, UNITY was added to the list of 10 funded partners of Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne. This honor has given UNITY a high mark of legitimacy and has added credibility to its cause.
White explained, “UNITY belongs to the community and is reaching out to the entire community to join our cause to help provide hope to the youth in our community. Expanding their lives includes giving them exposure to opportunities and experiences before they enter college and adulthood that will change their lives.”
Tickets for the concert are $16 for adults, $11 for seniors and students and $6 for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the Artstix Box Office at the Arts United Center or by calling (260) 422-4226.
This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2013 print edition.