Grammy-Award Winning Artist, Lecrae, Leads a Night of Music and Social Justice
It is Black History Month, and to celebrate this time of culture and history, the University of the Pacific’s Black History Month Committee (BHM) invited Grammy-award winning artist, Lecrae for a performance at the Bob Hope Theater in downtown Stockton on Friday night, February 10.
The event was part lecture, part Q&A, and part concert, and open to the public. A prime example of how Pacific is interested in sharing some of its opportunities with those beyond students and faculty.
About why Lecrae was invited as keynote speaker, “He isn’t afraid to share his true opinion but also his humility,” said Cheyanne Harris, Civil Engineering ‘17, and a member of the BHM Committee.
One family came all the way from Turlock, California just to see Lecrae, sharing, “Especially for the younger generation coming up, there is something that he has coming from that generation where the kids are able to relate to him.” Cleve Brown ‘18 communications major is also a fan of Lecrae and shared “I like the work that he does: I like the music he sings, I like what he talks about, he’s a cool person all around. I don’t know him personally but I like what he represents.”
Lecrae is known as a Christian hip hop artist, rapper, and record producer who produces songs renowned for their inspirational messages. In 2013, Lecrae’s album Gravity won the Grammy award for Best Gospel album. In 2015, his song “Messengers” won the Grammy award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. He has also won the 2015 BET award for Best Gospel Artist, as well as being nominated in 2013 and in 2016. And that is just scratching the surface of his awards and nominations.
The event was hosted by Stockton resident and Christian artist and spoken word poet, Brandon Leake, whose energy and enthusiasm kept the audience pumped up throughout the evening. Leake also shared his several of his own poems which reflected his faith and his experiences as a black man living in the United States.
Prior to Lecrae’s appearance, Pacific’s Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet performed a few pieces. The Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet included Brandon Woody on trumpet, Isaiah Collier on saxophone, Jamael Dean on piano, and Timothy Angulo on drums. Based on the reaction from the crowd, the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet was well received, to say the least.
When Lecrae took the stage, the crowd shouted after almost an hour of anticipation and it actually took some time for everyone to calm down so that Lecrae could be heard.
“I think that he is very real and upbeat,” said Daryll Mendoza, Civil Engineering ‘17, “Sometimes people say ‘never meet your heroes’ but he is a good example of living out what he is preaching.” Lecrae was humble and showed that he cared for everyone who came out to see him that night through his words and performance.
Lecrae’s talk was relevant to many issues that many want to be addressed: from police brutality toward African Americans to the concerns over the current presidential administration. If Lecrae’s talk needed to be given a title, it would be “Fear or Fortitude”. With all the issues and dangers that seem to surround us all, Lecrae shared that he believes people can respond by either lashing out in fear or by standing together from a place of strength. He talked about the importance of being united as one body over being a community of separate individuals. Lecrae also shared a quote from civil rights activist, Representative John Lewis (D-GA), “Fifty years later, those of us who are committed to the cause of justice need to pace ourselves because our struggle does not last for one day”.
After the talk, Lecrae engaged in a Q&A with the audience, who asked him a range of questions from his faith to the music industry to his age. When asked about how the genre of rap music came to be and how it has evolved, Lecrae talked about how rap is a product of the war on drugs and how young African American men were without role models to look up to, so rap ended up glorifying drugs and gang violence. However, Lecrae now uses rap to express his faith and encourage anyone who listens. To answer someone’s question about his own experiences in the music industry as a Christian, Lecrae referred to his new book “Unashamed” which fans were able to purchase at the event.
After the Q&A, it was time for a performance from Lecrae. Lights were flashing, the music was blasting, and almost everyone was standing, jumping for joy with their hands in the air. Lecrae was almost constantly moving and his energy spread throughout the theater. He performed several songs and even debuted a couple of his new songs, even if he had not memorized all the words, but no one seemed to mind. Lecrae’s music can be described as a mix of gospel, hip hop, rap, and just full of passionate energy.
After the performance, everyone was talking and still pumped up. For those who did not come out to the event, but might have an opportunity for a similar experience in the future, Victor Cadenas, Marketing ‘17, expressed, “I feel [Lecrae’s music] is something people need to listen to. I would highly recommend it, even to those not of faith. I am not a huge man of faith, but everything he said really resonated with me.”
Carl Wheeler, English with a minor in Teaching Professions ‘17, wanted to express his thanks toward the university for hosting the event, “It is really good for the student body and really brings the Stockton community together with the university.”
PC : Ray Wong