Sharing good music, food and discussion was the agenda for a Thursday, January 18, dinner bringing together students and staff from the Tucker Center and Living Learning Community House (plus many from the InterFaith Floor and Humanities LLCs) and the Jones Family Singers gospel-funk group from Texas. The singers were on campus for a residency including a performance on Thursday, January 19, at 7 pm.
The approximately 40 attendees partook of a generous spread of New England comfort food (pot roast, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, local root vegetables, corn bread, and peach cobbler); the Jones Family taught everyone a song; and Paddock’ Music Library’s Memory Apata and Tucker’s MultiFaith Advisor Leah Torrey co-facilitated a conversation about spirituality, music and cross-cultural exchange. A diverse group of students from across the religious and international spectrum shared personal stories and connected with the visiting artists. They didn’t shy away from going deep, on issues ranging from a divided America to a divided Jerusalem to internal/individual divisions on religion and faith.
These exchanges meant a lot to the artists and the campus participants. Wrote Torrey, after the dinner, “The event was beautiful and many of the InterFaith Floor students have already sent me notes or approached me telling how much they enjoyed the evening.” Remarked Tucker Center Dean Daveen Litwin: “It was wonderful to bring together this diverse group of students, faculty and staff and connect through song, spirit and conversation.”
Humanities LLC member Veselin I. Nanov ’20 found it especially meaningful. “The Jones Family Singers have true faith and that was manifested powerfully through their songs, but also through their speech, through their interaction with us,” he wrote. “They are storytellers who communicate a narrative of hope, of inclusion and sheer human love. I am thankful for having the chance to meet with them and partake in their restorative, soulful singing.”