Mosaic celebrates 20 years

Pop music show marks anniversary

By Kate Opalewski

Drawn by the excitement of art and the quality of performance, around 200 young people from more than 50 metropolitan schools come together each year to be a part of the Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit.

For their 20th Celebration Season, the multicultural youth ensemble presents Singsation! The Mosaic Singers in Concert from Mar. 2-4 at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of Arts.

This year's event is packed with more of what supporters love about Mosaic--Detroit stories told from the perspective of its youth through music and dance. More than 75 talented young artists - ages 12 through 19 - will take the stage.

"The first act of the concert features both sacred and secular choral pieces, including spirituals, world music and gospel," says DeLashea Mya Strawder, Mosaic's artistic director of music programs. "In act two, we pay tribute to some of the biggest hits and pop music icons of the '60s through the '80s. Pop music's energetic and story-driven nature highlight the youthful and fun-loving energy that is Mosaic Singers.

"I select the music, rehearse the singers and conduct during the concert. Working with a team of amazing musicians, music educators, coaches and a choreographer, I have the opportunity to make the idea of this musical journey a reality for everyone to share."

Founded by Rick Sperling in 1992, Mosaic was born out of a need to fill the gaps in arts education in metro Detroit schools while providing an artistic home for young actors, singers and stage technicians. Mosaic has trained more than 7,000 Detroit young artists, produced 15 performance tours in Europe, Asia, Africa and the U.S., and created and produced more than 21 original scripts.

As Mosaic celebrates the versatility of the voice during Singsation!, they will perform songs like Greg Jasperses' "Bailando," Kurt Carr's "For Every Mountain" and some big hits from the Jackson family, one of which will be Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation."

"I like the second act because it's cool," said 16-year-old Kara Haneline, a Mosaic singer for six years, who will honor Tina Turner by singing "Proud Mary." "I wasn't around for the music that we are singing, but I get to be a part of it and its fun. I like that there is such a variety of songs and that they all have meaning."

"I'm super excited about the Singsation! event. The songs, dance and everything is just so amazing and creative. I can't wait," said 12-year-old Nikolas Huey, a Mosaic singer performing for his first year. "My style of singing is gospel and pop. I call it 'gosop.'"

These young artists train intensively with theater professionals for nine months. They have established themselves as a disciplined, professional-level theater company, winning international recognition and awards. They make music, write scripts, build sets and design costumes together.

"The part of Mosaic that I love is the energy and commitment the members and staff bring to performances. Being in Mosaic helps me get better at doing what I love, which is performing," Huey says.

"Mosaic has changed my life by letting me see that everything isn't going to be handed to you. You have to work for it and you can achieve whatever goals you set for yourself," Haneline says.

Mosaic proudly reports that 95 percent of the young artists who participate in Mosaic's Main Stage Training Program graduate high school and go on to college, many with scholarships, which is dramatically above the national average for young people of similar backgrounds.

"I most enjoy seeing how music and performing arts transforms, enlightens and empowers the people that it reaches," Strawder says. "The program provides a platform for young people to be ambassadors of our city and share all of the great things that are happening in it."

Mosaic's Singsation!

10 a.m. Mar. 1 , 8 p.m. Mar. 2 and 3, 4 p.m. Mar. 4

Detroit Film Theatre

5200 Woodward Avenue

Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 833-7900

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