Krog Street Tunnel hosts its first public event featuring the Spelman Glee Club

The Krog Street Tunnel near Atlanta’s Cabbagetown neighborhood is a sector known for its public art and expression (DorMiya Vance/WABE).

This story was updated on March 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Built in the early 1900s, The Krog Street Tunnel helped increase job accessibility for the local neighborhoods of Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown and Inman Park.

In 2014, the community took a stance to protect the tunnel; Cabbagetown residents painted its walls grey to protest a city masquerade event planned at the site. Today, the sector is part of Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and is home to public art displays. 

The neighbors of Cabbagetown shut down the tunnel Friday, March 7, to host its first out-to-the-public event featuring the Spelman Glee Club. 

At the event, at least 50 spectators joined in watching the Glee Club’s director, Dr. Kevin Johnson, conduct a show of choral-style songs. The ladies of the Glee Club wore shiny black gowns and pearls as they sang from the walking platforms along the sides of the tunnel. 

The voices bounced off the dimly lit walls as barking dogs blended in with the echoes. 

Davis Butner is an architectural designer, urbanist and creative consultant. Butner curated the tunnel show alongside different organizations, including Creative Placemaking Communities and the Atlanta BeltLine. 

“This idea came from just wandering through the tunnel on a particularly busy day and hearing just how resonant this site was, and imagining what it would be like to feel kind of immersed in that sound,” Butner said. “It is also sort of a chance to kind of break the fourth wall of performance trying to bring performer and audience together in a meaningful way.”

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies reports that legislative appropriations to the Georgia Council for the Arts have increased by only $10,500 since last year.

Ann Dickson, CEO of the California nonprofit Creative Placemaking Communities, said the concert’s purpose was to “showcase what arts can do to enhance a community, particularly a space or place.”

Longtime Cabbagetown resident John Dirga is the neighborhood’s Neighborhood Planning Unit representative, and he believes the community knows how special the tunnel is. 

“We like to protect awesome stuff, and so if it feels a little gatekeeper — that’s not the intention,” Dirga said. “I think people just have found something special, and they know if that’s in danger that it’s worth standing up and voicing their beliefs loudly.”

Spelman Glee Club President Gabrielle Campbell (right) and Vice President Simone Moales (left) stand for interviews following the performance (DorMiya Vance/WABE).

The Krog Street performance kicked off the Spelman Glee Club’s “Road To 100” tour, commemorating their centennial season. Gabrielle Campbell is a senior at Spelman College and serves as the Glee Club’s president. 

“We’re used to going to go to churches, local organizations, but at first we were like ‘the tunnel, oh my god, we’re gonna be able to hear ourselves,’” Campbell said. “But it was the complete opposite. The acoustics were like none other. It reminded me of when we went to Italy. And we were in those beautiful acoustics by the Vatican.”