CHARLESTON, W.Va. – They’ve been there from the beginning. For the past 18 New Year’s Eves, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Male Chorus has been singing its gospel message to those who attend the Goodnight celebration in Charleston. This will be their 19th annual appearance.
Chorus Spokesperson Jim Hairston said it’s an honor to perform before thousands of people who come out for the night of family-friendly entertainment.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to simply share our music with our community,” Hairston said.
The chorus performs at nearly 50 events every year but Goodnight is one of its favorites. Hairston said that’s because of all the faces they see in the crowd. Black and white, Christian and Jew, convenience store clerks and company CEOs, Hairston explained the crowd comes from all walks of life.
“We look out there and we see one of the most diverse audiences that one could possibly have in the city of Charleston.”
Diverse also describes the members of the chorus.
“We’re Methodists. We’re Presbyterians. We’re Pentecostal. We’re Catholic. We’re Nazarene,” says Hairston. “We’re a little bit of everything.”
The members come from 19 different congregations from Oak Hill to Hurricane and is made up of 34 members.
This year the chorus will perform at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at St. Marks United Methodist Church on Washington and Dickinson Streets. Hairston explained the two performances won’t sound alike. That’s because they’ll be singing different songs.
“Both sets will have a little bit of holiday music, a lot of what we call favorites, which people have requested and asked for, and then new stuff we have worked on through the year.”
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Male Chorus is one of only a few groups who have performed at all 19 Goodnights. When the event debuted in 1994 it was called Last Night and featured fewer than a dozen performers. This year there are 10 venues and two dozen individuals and groups taking part.
The event runs from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Tuesday with free parking and trolley service.