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NIU Professor Janice Hamlet Discusses Bringing Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer's Life to Light in a Virtual Musical Project

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Hamlet was chosen as the featured speaker for the project, which told the story of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. 

NIU Professor Janice Hamlet Discusses Bringing Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer's Life to Light in a Virtual Musical Project

NIU Communications Professor Janice Hamlet was chosen as the featured speaker for two virtual performances of a new musical project this summer, NIU Today reports.

The project featured Composer Mary D. Watkin's opera "Dark River," and told the story of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Tianhui Ng, a music professor and conductor at Mount Holyoke College, served as music director.

The project featured Hamlet's words, accompanied by choral performances by the West Village Chorale and Pioneer Valley Symphony.

Hamlet had already researched Hamer when she wrote a scholarly journal article about her.

"Hamer's story is an incredible story that Mary Watkins felt compelled to put to into music," Hamlet said. "It was my first involvement in being part of a project like this. I applaud the composer for taking someone's story and turning it into an opera the way she did. I thought it was an amazing project."

"Even though she was uneducated, she was a prolific public speaker mainly because of her passion and her willingness to be very honest about what was going on," Hamlet said.

In between video materials and performances of Hamer's arias, Hamlet spoke of her lif, all via Zoom.

"It was just incredible for all these people all over the United States to come together in this virtual concert," she said.

Read more on NIU Today.


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