The IU Soul Revue’s Spring Concert is a celebration of African-American musical tradition, but this year, there will be a show unlike any other the ensemble has performed.
The concert, titled “Evolution of Soul,” will take place starting at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and will incorporate elements of theatricality in with their traditional lineup of funk, rhythm and blues, and soul music.
“There’s also going to be the first half which is more of a musical performance and the second half is going to be more of a concert type,” IU Soul Revue director Crystal Taliefero said. “We’re going to have props, which we’ve never had before, and we’re going to have more stage and light design than we’ve ever had before – it’s just going to be a pop rock concert.”
The theme of evolution deals not only with the music, but with the transformation of oneself through that music, Taliefero said.
One student will narrate this transformation through the performance. He will begin speaking as an African storyteller or music man at the show’s start and eventually turn into a present-day emcee.
“You’ll see the transformation takes place visually and orally,” Taliefero said. “There’s also the context of the history of evolution of African-American music. He’s going to give you the background and story behind how all of this is changing and what took place during the times.”
Raynetta Wiggins, road manager for the group, said the incorporation of the history is one of the most compelling new elements of the performance, along with the incorporation of visual storytelling via projection during the concert.
“The Soul Revue always has some sort of message with the music and the fun,” Wiggins said. “It’s not always serious. It’s not always happy and dancing, but you get both of those components in their show. It takes that a step further this year with the breadth of the story it’s trying to tell.”
The story of the music moves from the late 1800s to present day.
“It’s informative and visually stimulated,” Taliefero said. “It’s a show the Soul Revue hasn’t performed before in this capacity. It’s just going to be an entertaining show — I come from the rock world of performance, so we’re definitely going to have those elements in there.”
Taliefero said when she met these students at the beginning of the year there was the hurdle of unfamiliarity facing them. Now, she sees them dedicating themselves to putting on this show and learning to trust one another along the way.
Wiggins said, from the perspective of a performer and an observer, the amount of work that went into planning this show along with all the other performances this year has been impressive.
“Any group takes sacrifice on the part of the students and director to show up and give their best every rehearsal and really give your best in the final performance,” Wiggins said. “They’ve shown a lot of flexibility, the choreography is going to be amazing, and the vocal coach is amazing.”
The multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Soul Revue is one that continues to make Taliefero proud, and she said she looks forward to seeing auditions for next year’s ensemble. The first round of auditions will take place April 24 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, the second during the fall semester.
“We all have one thing in common, and that is that we love funk, we love soul, we love R&B,” Taliefero said. “It doesn’t matter your race, creed, sexuality — you have a common bond that is to play African-American music.”