Newly Commissioned Song “I Rise” Based On Poetry By Dr. Maya Angelou

Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, pays tribute to the late United States Poet Laureate Dr. Maya Angelou by commissioning a song inspired by four well-known poems written by the world renowned poet and civil rights activist.

HMC is the first chorus in the nation to receive the rights from the late poet’s estate to create music that uses her poetry.

The song, titled I Rise, was created by internationally acclaimed musician and composer Mark Hayes. It is written for men’s voices, runs approximately 11 minutes in length, and includes an orchestra of 16 instrumentalists.

I Rise will make its world premiere in its entirety on Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12 as part of the Chorus’ 30th anniversary concert, also titled I Rise, at the Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City.

Four of Dr. Angelou’s poems are used as source material in the song: On the Pulse of Morning, Caged Bird, Equality, and Still I Rise.

“Maya Angelou’s name and poetry are synonymous with Civil Rights and elevating oneself and ones’ surrounding community,” says HMC Artistic Director Dustin Cates. “It’s only fitting, as Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, to present a significant choral work for not only our own audience, but for anyone who hears it in the future, wherever they may be.”

After presenting I Rise in Kansas City, Heartland Men’s Chorus will travel to Denver for the International Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival where HMC will perform it for thousands of singers, composers and directors on Tuesday, July 5 at Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Center.