January #MIKidsCan Champion of the Month: Caebre Baty

The chance to portray civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. as a young man is one that Caebre Baty is excited about, considering the magnitude of his contributions.

“I thought he was an impactful part of our society and really helped us become a better society even though things aren’t great right now,” Baty said. “We need his story to be told again.”

Headshot photo of Caebre Baty.
The I DREAM cast photo of Caebre Baty.

The 11-year-old is a 6th-grader at Grand Rapids Christian Middle School. He takes the stage as young Martin Luther King Jr. as part of Opera Grand Rapids’ production of I DREAM. The innovative premiere performance will fuse opera with bluesy, jazzy and gospel-tinged rhythms as it tells the story of the famous preacher from Atlanta.

The performance takes place on Monday, Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at 7:30 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. The production is part of a larger MLK Day Celebration, which begins at 6 p.m. Both are open to the public and seating is available on a first-come basis at the door, which opens at 5:30 p.m.

Photo of Caebre Baty dressed as a lion.
Caebre Baty in a production of Opera Grand Rapids’ Noah’s Flood.

This is Baty’s third performance with Opera Grand Rapids following his participation in 2015’s Tosca and Noah’s Flood. He has also performed at Grand Rapids’ Civic Theatre in Caroline or Change in 2016. After performing with the Grand Rapids African American Youth Chorus, Baty took a chance on opera, eventually joining the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Chorus.

“I just jumped into it,” he said.

The alto performer will sing with a touring cast of adults who have graced the stages of opera companies in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Baty plans to approach this performance like he has in the past, by practicing his lines and listening to the songs. He devotes two to three hours per week to singing practice, balancing his passion for performing with school and sports such as basketball and cross country.

He said he doesn’t get nervous before a performance.

“I like being on stage. It’s pretty fun,” he said. “I like performing in front of big audiences.”

Baty hopes people in the crowd are inspired to get involved with theater and the performing arts, whether they want to be onstage or behind the scenes. He also hopes they walk away moved by the enduring message of Martin Luther King Jr.

“He helped us unite as one (and) made a lot of things better,” Baty said.

Do you know a child who deserves to be recognized for their commitment to living a healthy, active lifestyle? Nominate them at AHealthierMichigan.org/MIKidsCan.

Courtesy photos

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