Soul Food Concert Series Returns January 27 to Oakland University

Feeding the Soul with Inspirational Music and Words

Three musicians on stage performing

The Stone Sound Collective

The Soul Food Concert Series will return at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 27 to Varner Recital Hall on the campus of Oakland University (OU) for an event featuring inspirational music and words to nurture the soul and elevate the spirit.

“The Soul Food program is designed to unite our often-fractured community and celebrate the oneness of humanity,” said Mark Stone, an associate professor of music at Oakland University who co-founded the concert series in 2017 with Dwayne Anthony, community relations specialist and arts commissioner for the city of Pontiac.

The concert series kicked off in January 2017 at the Pontiac Creative Arts Center and was followed by a second concert at the same location in May 2017. A third concert was held in January 2017 at Oakland University.

“At each Soul Food gathering, people from varied cultural, spiritual, and faith backgrounds come together to share music and an uplifting reading from their respective tradition,” said Stone, who also serves on the Pontiac Arts Commission. “Soul Food is a music event in which the descriptor of ‘food’ is used metaphorically: attendees feed their spirits and experience the healing power of music while observing the many ways we are all connected.”

This Year’s Event Will Feature

  • The Oakland Chorale: Students from OU’s nationally recognized choral program, under the direction of Dr. Michael A. Mitchell, will perform a work recently commissioned by the Michigan Baha’i community and composed by Tom Trenney entitled The Light of Unity, as well as a traditional spiritual.
  • The Pontiac Citywide Choir Union: A gospel choir made up of members from eight different Pontiac churches; formed in 1946 to promote fellowship and oneness of purpose through a spirit of co-operation and tolerance.
  • The Stone Sound Collective: Founded by Mark Stone, the group unites diverse musicians and instruments to create a new global soundscape. The collective brings together celebrated world percussion traditions of Africa and India with the lyricism of cello and saxophone.
  • Victor Ghannam and Khalid Gomar: Two of Metro Detroit’s foremost performers of Middle Eastern music will present a Takseem for Oud (Middle Eastern instrument similar to the guitar) and a Takseem for Qanoun (Middle Eastern instrument similar to the hammer dulcimer).
  • The Ybarra Brothers: an energetic “mariachi punk” duo from Pontiac who will perform original compositions celebrating their Mexican heritage.
  • Marvin “Doc” Holladay: Oakland University Professor Emeritus and founder of the Jazz and World Music programs at OU. Holladay will be performing his original composition, Luminous Continent, on a traditional West African flute.

“As the founder of the program that I now direct at OU, ‘Doc’ has been an important mentor for 20 years,” Stone said. “As our relationship grew, he introduced me to the Baha’i Faith and when I became a Baha’i in 2016 we began deep discussions of music as it relates to spirituality. During our discussions, ‘Doc’ told me about the wonderful Soul Food series that he is a part of in Ecuador and encouraged me to begin a similar series in Michigan.”

Admission to the January 27 concert is free. It will be presented in collaboration with the OU Religious Studies Program and the Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance as part of the OU/Pontiac Initiative.

The concert series has also been selected to receive $5,000 from the Oakland University/Pontiac Initiative Community Impact Sponsorship Award, which provides grant funding in various amounts to groups who request funding for projects that make an impact in the community in education, health and wellness, and other pillars of community benefit.

“Half of the money will be used to support January’s event at Oakland University,” Stone said. “The other half of the award will be used to support an event at the Pontiac Youth Recreation Center in June.”

For more information, contact the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at 248-370-2030 or

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