We Are the Dream
Penn State's Essence of Joy uses music to connect the past, present, and future, spreading a message of strength and equality.
Room 101 of the Music Building isn’t very exciting. With the exception of the shiny black grand piano in front, it’s actually kind of grey. But all of that changes when, at 3:30 p.m., members of the Essence of Joy choir stream in for rehearsal. Even though it’s the first Monday after the three-week holiday break, the group is buzzing.
Though the choir, led by Anthony Leach, professor of music and music education, is busy year-round, January is particularly meaningful, as the singers raise their voices to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The music of the Civil Rights Era is rich in the message of encouragement and empowerment for singers and listeners to not be afraid while confronting obstacles, whether physical or psychological."—Anthony Leach
"As choir members, we can say, 'We are the dream' because not only do we represent a wide variety of disciplines at the University, and cultures and hometowns, we also show that we as peers are able to teach each other kindness and respect."—Essence of Joy singer
"Music speaks for people. I believe the spiritual was a therapeutic response to oppression, freeing people in mind, body, and spirit."—Essence of Joy singer