By Claude Jay
In less than four weeks most college student will take their finals and those who are seniors will prepare for their big day, graduation. For the seniors, they will come to the end of their undergraduate careers. As they move forward they will look back on their college careers, the challenges and the accomplishments. For students from Morehouse College Glee Club, Cheyney State University Concert Choir and Lincoln University Concert Choirs; they will add to there college careers, singing in Harlem.
In March, two Harlem Churches were the host of fundraisers for Historical Black Colleges. The Morehouse College Glee Club was presented in concert by the Maroon and White Fund on Sunday, March 9, at First Corinthian Baptist. The Lincoln University and Cheyney State University Concert Choirs were presented in concert; United In Song, by the St Paul Baptist Church Choir, on Saturday, March 29, at the St Paul Baptist Church.
For both concerts, I passed out flyers and sold tickets. In doing so, it again affirmed how important Historical Black College and University continue to be. As I listen to the wonderful voices of these college students, there was no doubt what ever time I put into promoting the concerts paid off. The mission of HBCU is like no other. There was a time in American History; the education of African American children and young adults was unheard of. Yes, this is true, and it is the reason Historical Black Colleges and Universities were founded over 100 year ago; for the purpose of educating black children.
Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) still are important and relevant for educating African American young men and women; and students of all races and ethnicities. A large number of African American college graduates, graduate from Historical Black Colleges and continue on to graduate school to receive Masters and Doctorate degrees. Through out the world, working all professions, there are accomplished men and women who are graduates of Historical Black Colleges and Universities. The concert fundraisers provided an opportunity for Harlem and the New York Community to support the students understand the importance and the contributions of Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
I had the honor of introducing the Morehouse Glee Club at First Corinthians Baptist Church. I am a graduate of Morehouse College. The predominately Black male student body is located in Atlanta, Georgia. I sang with the Morehouse Glee Club during my four years of college. I had the privilege to serve as Secretary and Public Relations Manager of the Glee Club. During my senior year, I was given the task of writing the Glee Club history. In the last line, I wrote my description of what the Morehouse Glee Club meant to me. The statement became the Morehouse College Glee Club motto. I stated, “The Morehouse Glee Club is an eminent expression of brotherhood, a united force of dedication and commitment and an unselfish labor of love.” I am honor that this statement was adopted over 30 year ago and is recited by Glee Club members at each rehearsal. This is an amazing honor.
The Morehouse College Glee Club concert at First Corinthian Baptist Church (116th Street, Harlem), where Rev Dr. Michael Walrond, class of ’93 is Pastor, was a dynamic musical experience! The Maroon and White Fund, Adair Tyronne Johnson, President, class of ‘90 sponsored the concert. From the start of the concert when the Morehouse Glee Club made a rapid entrance down the aisle wearing formal tails the audience was with them. Their expansive repertory of classical music, spirituals, hymns and African Song filled the church. The array of solo voices featured through out the program was a delight. Carl Alexander, Countertenor was exceptional on the selection, Vocalise, by Willbur Chenoweth. The audience was so taken with his beautiful and powerful voice they erupted in spontaneous standing ovations. The Morehouse College Quartet was a delight.
Also, Betelehemu (Sung in Yorabu) accompanied by drums and other percussion instruments was a highlight and moved the audience to their feet. Dr. David Morrow, Director of Morehouse College Glee Club and Morehouse College Glee Club Quartet brought a standard of excellence to the music and performance. Dr. Morrow is the third director in the 102 year history. Mr. Kemper Harold pasted the baton to his student Dr. Wendell P. Whalum, and Dr Whalum pasted the baton to his student Dr. David Morrow.
I am a member of St Paul Baptist Church and choir member; Rev. Dr. V. DuWayne Battle, Pastor. On Saturday, March 29, at the St Paul Baptist Church (132nd Street, Harlem); the St Paul Baptist Church Choir, Dr. Dexter Allgood, director presented, United in Song, A Celebration of the Pennsylvania Historical Black College and University Concert Choirs, featuring Cheyney State University Concert Choir, Marques L.A Garrett, conductor and Lincoln University Concert Choir, Edryn J. Coleman, conductor.
The St Paul Baptist Church Choir and The Dexter Allgood Singers open the concert with three spirit filled selections which set the tone of for praise and worship. The selections included City Called Heaven, Deacon William McEachern, soloist, Safety, Darlene Cheek, soloist.
The combine choirs of Cheyney State and Lincoln University followed with the stirring and the powerful, Lift Every Voice and Sing, arranged by Roland Carter, conducted by Marques Garrett. Cheyney State Concert Choir, the young ladies were dressed in beautiful gowns the young men in tuxedos. They sang selections from the classical repertory and spirituals. The audience listened intently to their every note and responded with a standing ovation.
The evening close out with all the choirs of the evening singing, Total Praise by Richard Smallwood. There was no doubt that the music the combined choirs touched hearts and lifted spirits.
The music of the Morehouse College Glee Club, Cheyney State University Concert Choir and the Lincoln University Concert Choir reached and moved the audiences in a powerful way. They continued the tradition of the Historical Black College and University Concerts. These tours provide young men and women the opportunity to develop and share their gifts and talent, and audience the opportunity to support Historical Black Colleges and Universities.
Photographers credit: DeRonn Kidd for the Morehouse College Glee Club photographs; and Atypical Pictures, Inc for the Cheyney. State University and Lincoln University Concert Choir photographs.