Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in Song

NEWS // January 2, 2020

Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in Song

Cherry Arnold-Verry and Dale Fleming, Volunteers, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego

January is a busy month for the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego as the organization and the rest of the nation celebrate the life and achievements of the Choir’s namesake, Dr. King, an influential American civil rights leader who campaigned to end racial segregation and achieve racial equality in the United States.

This 100% volunteer choir, made up of more than 80 diverse members, gets asked to sing in January more than in any other month, except for February, which is Black History Month. The gospel music they sing is rooted in Negro Spirituals, coded songs used by slaves in the southern states to communicate among themselves for their plans to escape. These Spirituals are the foundation for other genres of American music, including blues, jazz, rhythm & blues, pop, rock and country; and all these genres influence gospel music styles.

Once a year in May, the MLK Choir departs from its usual repertoire to celebrate these offshoots of the Negro Spiritual in a musical performance, “All ‘Bout the Blues,” the organization’s major fundraiser for their Visual & Performing Arts Educational Grant. Over the last 21 years, the MLK Choir has been performing gospel concerts to raise funds for these educational grants for local high school seniors pursuing a college degree in visual or performing arts.


Since the Choir began, it has raised funds and awarded $249,000 in grants to 111 seniors. Past recipients include budding actors and actresses, dancers, singers, graphic artists, videographers, writers, painters, sketch artists and other talented youth.

Visual & Performing Arts Educational Grant Recipients


Access to the arts, diverse and inclusive volunteer opportunities and arts education—The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego aligns with Dr. King’s vision, and the vision of Live Well San Diego, for Thriving communities across our county!

For a list of upcoming live performances, view the concert schedule and stay up to date by following the MLK Choir on Facebook.

If you know high school seniors that might qualify for the Visual & Performing Arts Educational Grants, encourage them to learn more and apply by visiting The deadline for applications is March 5, 2020. Grant amounts range from $1,500 to $3,000.

To volunteer, donate, arrange a performance or learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego, visit