What special quality transforms a mere party into a memorable formal affair? You guessed it: a renowned jazz band. Although, not just any jazz players perform at Morehouse’s 28th annual Candle In The Dark Gala. Members of the Morehouse College jazz band, along with select Atlanta professional musicians are chosen to create the smooth rhythms and rings that soothe the ears of countless guests for the night.
Per usual, student volunteers at the gala receive admission in exchange for their service. This is one of the many benefits that students may obtain through showcasing their talent for the college.
The Maroon Tiger had the pleasure to sit with a member of the gala jazz performers: Dakarai Barclay (Trumpet, ’17).
Maroon Tiger (MT): What makes you say, “Yes,” when asked to perform at the gala?
Dakarai Barclay (DB): The Jazz band has two big performances throughout the year: the gala and the jazz band concert. You know what you sign up for when you sign up for the jazz band. You sign up for the gala and concerts. It’s like being an athlete. You play whenever and wherever you are requested.
MT: Is this your first time performing at the gala?
DB: No. This is my fourth time performing at the gala. I have been playing since my freshman year and now I am a senior. I would consider myself a veteran.
MT: How do you feel being a student that is involved in the presentational aspect of the gala?
DB: Freshman year, it was all new. Although I’ve played in front of many people before, the gala was special. You’re right in the center of the stage of the ballroom. It’s the second biggest event for the campus besides Homecoming. Bright lights! Everyone’s dressed up nicely and happy, just celebrating. Even though I wasn’t a soloist, I still played an important role. I felt I was fulfilling a role that others could not fulfill on campus.
MT: Do you wish there were more student roles for the gala?
DB: There are a lot of students that go to the gala. You have ushers, the band, and speakers. I wish that ticket prices were cheaper so that more students could attend. At the end of the day, it’s a fundraising event that benefits students. I would love to see more students.
MT: What are the pros and cons of being a gala performer?
DB: I wouldn’t call it a con, but we do have to practice a lot more leading up to the event. As a performer, you do not have the chance to sit down to enjoy the ceremony fully. We, as performers, face the audience – not the stage. We don’t have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves. But, it’s a benefit that we get in for free, and to see how the logistics work before the show officially happens. We see how much effort the school puts into the event.
Another pro is that you never know who you are going to meet. I don’t long to meet celebrities, but the gala grants the opportunity to meet new people. I have pictures with famous people, heard live singing by Stevie Wonder, and witnessed a speech by Congressman John Lewis. I’ve spoken with President John Wilson and various people, ultimately seeing the gala as a family reunion.
MT: If given the opportunity, would you play again for the gala?
DB: During our tenure in college, I feel like we have roles to play. We have people who are here to play basketball, run SGA, etc. One of my roles is to provide music to the campus. This is not why I came to the college, but it’s something I do. If I had another year at Morehouse, and no one was better than me, I think it would be my responsibility to serve my college up on that stage. The gala should be an opportunity for current students who perform arts, to let them shine. And, I will definitely sit in the shadows and watch the next generation play.
Deputy Managing Editor