UAB gospel choir honors church bombing victims

Special to The Pew

The University of Alabama-Birmingham Gospel Choir is celebrating Black History Month in a special way this year, with a song that honors the memory of the four little girls who lost their lives in the 16th Street church bombing in 1963.

“You Don’t Know What I Could Have Been” is an original song penned by choir director Kevin P. Turner. The song was written and performed for the choir’s most recent theatrical concert, “Gospel Anthology II: The Church and the Civil Rights Movement.”

The track is available for download at iTunes,, and Myspace Music. Local, national and satellite radio stations, secular and gospel, will all have copies for radio play, Turner said. Comedian, radio host, and Birmingham native Rickey Smiley will debut the song to his national audience, as well.

“This is perfect timing as we celebrate the service, sacrifices and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, including those of the Foot Soldiers, the Freedom Riders and the children who died during this time in American history,” Turner said. “This song gives voice to the children who did not survive attacks during the Civil Rights Movement.” The timing of the release coincides with Black History Month and national observations of historic anniversaries and events, including the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders.

2011 was a banner year for the choir, with its first overseas tour to London and Birmingham, England and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, two CD releases, an East Coast tour, a live performance on NBC’s “Today” with Al Roker on the campus of UAB to 5.5 million viewers, and the special recognition they gave to local heroes of the Civil Rights Movement who recently passed away by presenting the “Gospel Anthology II” concert. Turner also was honored by the Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir, the original Civil Rights mass movement choir.

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