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Noontime Concerts Presents

in association with The Living Heritage Foundation August 28, 2022 at 3:00 PM Herbst Theatre San Francisco


On August 28th at 3:00 PM Noontime Concerts in association with the Living Heritage Foundation is thrilled to present “Majesty of the Spiritual”, a trans-figurative musical experience, an opening of the heart and soul that reveals the Spiritual as a continually evolving art form, as deeply rooted in the present as it is in the past.

The program features 12 award-winning singers from the great opera houses of the world joined by the legendary Frederica von Stade singing the works of three living African American composers, Lena McLin, Roland Carter, and Jacqueline B. Hairston. The event will also feature a film component highlighting each composer.

Curated by Robert Sims, baritone, “Majesty of the Spiritual” is an intimate gathering of mighty forces, much more than simply a musical concert, “Majesty of the Spiritual” is a testimony in music to the indomitable will that navigated an impossibly tragic, unforgettable past, and a vivid demonstration of musical lineage and poetic tradition, dynamic and powerfully alive today.


Statement from Robert Sims

Emerging from a long continuum of musical creativity, the African American spiritual is a distinctive genre in that it is a uniquely American musical tradition. While the combination of African enslavement and Protestant Christianity existed in many other geographical locations, it was only in the United States that spiritual developed. It is from this genre that other important African-derived musical traditions sprang including the blues, jazz, gospel music, rhythm and blues, and other important expressions.

It was the likes of musical pioneers like Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Hayes, and Paul Robeson, who established an art music tradition for the genre through their performances, compositions and arrangements. Their efforts began yet another tradition which continues today. African American concert vocalists including Dorothy Maynor, Todd Duncan, Inex Matthews, William Warfield, Robert McFerrin, Shirley Verrett, Florence Quivar, Jessye Norman, and Benjamin Matthews are among many great interpreters of the art form. They have contributed to it becoming recognized along with German lieder, French melodie, and other art song traditions from Italy, Russia, and Spain.

My interest in African American spirituals was inspired by my high school music teacher, Dr. Lena McLin. I learned many spirituals sitting next to her as she composed and arranged at the piano. It is my hope that young musicians will explore this vast repertoire, and not just sing the most popular twenty-five spirituals known by many. Voice students should approach this music with the same reverence and seriousness that they would an opera aria or art song by a European composer.

I was privileged to witness Benjamin Matthews and William Warfield give full spiritual recitals in the 1990’s and between 1999 and 2002, was honored to join them in concert as a part of an ensemble, “Three Generations” (a trio singing spirituals).

Majesty of the Spiritual represents the perpetuation of a long and proud tradition. I am honored and humbled to make this possible.

– Robert Sims


Open/Close Program

About the Musicians


Robert Sims, Frederica von Stade, Donnie Ray Albert, Edward Graves, Raehann Bryce-Davis, Hope Briggs, Marquita Lister, Cynthia Clarey, Susheel Bibbs, Shawnette Sulker, Louise Toppin, Edwin Jahmal Davis, Carl Blake, Daniel Lockert, Byron Burford-Phearse, and James Meredith

Robert Sims, Creator

Ken Baker, Director, is a singer/actor/director whose collaborations with Robert Sims began when he directed Robert’s Carnegie Hall debut in 2005. Ken has directed several concerts featuring Robert Sims produced by the acclaimed, Music in the Loft, and Canti Classics, including the debut of Simon, Sykes, and Sims, at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel. Ken has had the honor of singing for the United States Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients at Chicago’s acclaimed Empire Room and is a member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals. He has appeared on stages across the country in national tours of Sunday in the Park with George and A Christmas Carol and has performed the roles of Teyve in Fiddler on the Roof In Concert and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady In Concert. Other roles include Nathan Detroit (Guys and Dolls), The Padre (Man of La Mancha), and Beadle Bamford (Sweeney Todd). His producing entity, KEN BAKER & FRIENDS PRESENTS… has offered concerts for charity, including On The Road To Lincoln Center, which allowed Ken and Robert to sing onstage together for the first time.

Robert Sims, Gold Medal winner of the American Traditions Competition, has been hailed by critics for his rich tone, energetic performances, and convincing stage presence. This season Robert appeared in his second telecast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He returned to the Oakland Symphony Orchestra to sing Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with Leonard Slatkin and solo appearances with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Center. Sims made his debut with Chicago Opera Theater in the world premiere of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride and produced Majesty of the Spiritual at New York’s Lincoln Center. He has appeared as the leading baritone in The James Baldwin Chronicles with Renee Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, and as Pangloss in Bernstein’s Candide with the Oakland Symphony.  Robert has toured Germany, Austria and Switzerland as the featured soloist with Roland Carter and the inSpirit Male Chorus.  Since his solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 2005 (featuring a special appearance by the late Odetta), Sims has made several appearances at that venue performing the spirituals of Jacqueline B. Hairston, and most notably as a featured soloist in the 2009 series, Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy (at the invitation of Jessye Norman). Sims has been presented in the Bay Area numerous times by Four Seasons Arts (founded by the late Dr. W. Hazaiah Williams) and is the recipient of the Heritage Keepers Award from Friends of Negro Spirituals.

Frederica von Stade Described by the New York Times as “one of America’s finest artists and singers,” Frederica von Stade continues to be extolled as one of the music world’s most beloved figures. Known to family, friends, and fans by her nickname “Flicka,” the mezzo-soprano has enriched the world of classical music for four and a half decades. Ms. von Stade’s career has taken her to the stages of the world’s great opera houses and concert halls. She began at the top when she received a contract from Sir Rudolf Bing during the Metropolitan Opera auditions, and since her debut in 1970, she has sung nearly all of her great roles with that company. Unparalleled in her artistry as a recitalist, Ms. von Stade combines her expressive vocalism and exceptional musicianship with a rare gift for communication, enriching audiences throughout the world. Though she retired from full-time performances in 2010, she continues to make special appearances in concerts and operas. Ms. von Stade is the holder of honorary doctorates from Yale University, Boston University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (which holds a Frederica von Stade Distinguished Chair in Voice), the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and her alma mater, the Mannes School of Music. In 1998 Ms. von Stade was awarded France’s highest honor in the Arts when she was appointed as an officer of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 1983 she was honored with an award given at The White House by President Reagan in recognition of her significant contribution to the arts.

Donnie Ray Albert is a regular guest of opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, plus numerous appearances with Opera Pacific, Houston Grand Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Dallas Opera, Arizona Opera, Atlanta Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Utah Opera, and the opera companies of New Orleans, Baltimore, Columbus, Kansas City, Omaha, Pittsburgh, and, in Canada, with the companies in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Manitoba, and Vancouver. In Europe, Mr. Albert has appeared at the Cologne Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Semperoper Dresden, Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen, the Royal Opera Wallonie in Liège, the National Theater in Prague, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lithuanian National Opera, plus the opera houses in Bordeaux, Cologne, Bregenz, Milan, Mannheim, Hamburg, and Vienna. He has appeared in Japan with the New National Theater in Tokyo, and in Brazil in São Paulo. Mr. Albert has appeared with symphony orchestras around the world, including the American Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, Grant Park Music Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Choral Arts Society of Washington, Radio France, Vienna Festival, and Deutsche Radio Philarmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, plus orchestras in Austin, Irving, Nashville, Plano, and Rhode Island.

Edward Graves, Noted by Opera News for his “stunningly sweet tone,” tenor Edward Graves, joins San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program in 2022. Earlier this season, he was seen as Policeman 2 in Blue at Michigan Opera Theatre. In 2022, he will debut with Berkshire Choral International in the title role of Judas Maccabaeus. As a 2021 participant in the Merola Opera Program, he was featured in a recital entitled What The Heart Desires and a filmed project entitled Back Home: Through The Stage Door. Graves has previously appeared at Michigan Opera Theatre as a Studio Artist in the 2019–20 season where he made his company and role debuts as Rinuccio in a double bill of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost.  He made his Seattle Opera debut in 2018 as Robbins in Porgy and Bess and appeared at The Glimmerglass Festival as a Young Artist in 2019 as Policeman 2 in the world premiere of Blue and 2017 as Peter in Porgy and Bess and Fred in Oklahoma! In the 2017–18 season, Graves was a Baumgartner Studio Artist at Florentine Opera where he performed roles in The Merry WidowVenus and Adonis/Dido and Aeneas and The Magic Flute.

Edward received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District in 2017 and Michigan District in 2019. Edward received his Performer Diploma and Master of Music in Voice Performance from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. He received his Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Towson University.

Raehann Bryce-Davis has been hailed by The New York Times as a “striking mezzo-soprano” and by the San Francisco Chronicle for her “electrifying sense of fearlessness.” In the 2021-2022 season, Ms. Bryce-Davis makes notable house debuts at the Metropolitan Opera in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, at La Monnaie de Munt, Brussels, as La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, and at the Glimmerglass Festival singing Azucena in Il trovatore. Additionally, she returns to both Los Angeles Opera and the Staatstheater Nürnberg as Azucena in Il trovatore, and to Opera Ballet Vlaanderen as Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos. On the concert stage, she joins Chineke! for a BBC Proms performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Kevin John Edusei, and sings solo recitals at both the Tuesday Musical Club in San Antonio, TX, with pianist Heeyoung Choi, and for the Merola Opera Program with pianist Jeanne-Minette Cilliers.

Hope Briggs, a native of New Jersey, drew a rave review from Opera News for her San Francisco Opera debut as the Duchess of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust “… Hope Briggs was stellar, delivering one of the evening’s highlights with her lusciously intoned, lovelorn aria.”

Most recently, Ms. Briggs sang the role of Lucinda in Opera San Jose’s workshop of Jake Heggie’s newest opera, Intelligence, and made her debut with Reno Chamber Orchestra in Beethoven’s Ah! Perfido. She also appeared as Marschallin in excerpts of Der Rosenkavalier with Fremont Symphony Orchestra, performed Bruckner’s Te Deum with Oakland Symphony, returned to Baton Rouge for Opéra Louisiane’s 10th Anniversary Gala, and made two important role debuts: Nedda in I Pagliacci with Festival Opera and the title role in Joplin’s Treemonisha with Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. She also sang Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Opéra Louisiane, debuted at Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, and sang Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the San Francisco Choral Society at Davies Symphony Hall.

Marquita Lister has earned worldwide critical praise for the past two decades. Critics all over the world rave about soprano Marquita Lister’s poignant, precise and intelligent technique. With an impressive repertoire that includes the masterworks of Verdi, Strauss, Puccini, and Gershwin, her courage and determination to dare the utmost in performance are her hallmarks. Ms. Lister has sung with major opera companies such as the San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Montreal Opera, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, La Scala, Semperoper Dresden, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Bastille Paris, Michigan Opera Theater, to name a few. She has performed with world-renowned artists, including Placido Domingo, Justino Diaz, Frederica Von Stade, Simon Estes, Sherrill Milnes, and Marcello Giordani.

Cynthia Clarey is a black American mezzo-soprano. She studied at Howard Univ. in Washington, D.C. (B.Mus.) and at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. (postgraduate diploma). She began her career with the Tri-Cities Opera Co. in Binghamton, N.Y. In 1977 she appeared in Musgrave’s The Voice of Ariadne at the N.Y.C. Opera, and then in the U.S. premiere of Tippett’s The Ice Break in Boston in 1979. She made her British debut as Monteverdi’s Octavia at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1984, returning there in 1986 as Gershwin’s Serena. In 1984 she sang in the premiere of Tippett’s The Mask of Time in Boston. After singing Polinesso in Ariodante at the Wexford Festival in 1985, she returned there in 1986 as Thomas’s Mignon. In 1992 she appeared as Serena in the Covent Garden premiere of Porgy and Bess in London and then sang Bess in Cape Town in 1996. She appeared with major orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. Among her other roles were Handel’s Rinaldo, Zerlina, Carmen, Dalila, Preziosilla, Octavian, and Cio-Cio-San.

Susheel Bibbs is an award-winning classical singer, actress, and Independent filmmaker. She founded and directs The Living Heritage Foundation (a nonprofit corporation that furthers the careers of professional artists who have championed inclusive programming) and M.E.P. Productions, an award-winning stage and film production company. A graduate of Boston University’s School for the Arts and the New England Conservatory Bibbs has won many awards and accolades in a career that has spanned over 30 years. For her work in media  Susheel Bibbs won a national EMMY, 2  BEST PROGRAM awards, and more. Her recent film work has now been showcased at The Cannes Film Festival and across North America on TV and in theaters. These have shared 26 international awards. She now has films on Mary Ellen Pleasant (Mother of Civil Rights in California) and on The Hyers Sisters on PBS, and her book on Pleasant is an Amazon bestseller.  Her life is the subject recently of a touring national PBS Arts Showcase module, and in 2022 her work is being presented four ways and archived under the National Endowment for the Humanities.  She wishes to inspire others to honor the “shoulders on which we stand” and the value of their own talents so that they can realize their dreams.

Shawnette Sulker has been described as a singer “…displaying a bright, superbly controlled soprano with perfectly placed coloratura.” Ms. Sulker has been a featured artist in three San Francisco Opera productions: Porgy and Bess, The Mother of Us All, and Louise. A native of Guyana, the soprano has sung leading roles in international companies of note. Opera Roles in Ms. Sulker’s repertoire include Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Die Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte), Cunegonde (Candide), Olympia/Giulietta/Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Musetta (La Bohème), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Zerlina and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Constanze (Abduction from the Seraglio), Frasquita and Micaëla (Carmen), Despina (Così fan tutte), Clara and Serena (Porgy and Bess), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Amore (Orfeo ed Euridice), Treemonisha (Treemonisha), Madame Silberklang (Der Schauspieldirektor), and Rosabella (The Most Happy Fella).

Louise Toppin, finalist in the Munich International Competition and winner of the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions, has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral, and oratorio performances in the United States, Czech Republic, Scotland, Japan, China, Uruguay, Sweden, the Caribbean, Bermuda, New Zealand, England, and Spain. She has appeared in recitals on concert series including Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, Licieu Theatre in Barcelona, Spain, and the International Albeniz Festival in Camprodon, Spain.

Edwin Jahmal-Davis, Praised by opera critic Voce di Meche for his “juicy, booming and room-filling bass” accompanied by “mesmerizing, fully- immersed acting,” dramatic basso profondo.  In the Spring of 2014, while studying voice with soprano Phyllis Lewis-Hale, he made his professional debut with the Mississippi Opera Company in the role of Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. He is a Master’s Degree recipient of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music where he studied with well-acclaimed baritone, Mark Oswald, and has appeared as a guest soloist at various national venues such as Pompano Beach Orchestra’s presentation of Handel’s Messiah, Bronx Concert Singers’ Winter and Spring presentations, St. Mark’s presentation of Messiah, Verdi’s Luisa Miller as Wurm, Osmin in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Mozart’s Don Giovanni as Maseto, and covering Reverend Olin Blitch in Susannah by Carlisle Floyd. He recently sang the world premiere of Brother Nat: Rise, Revolt, Redemption in the role of Will. He was also recently a featured vocalist in the symphonic premiere of Without Regard to Sex, Race or Color. He was crowned with the national title for the Marian Anderson Vocal Arts Competition hosted by the National Association of Negro Musicians in its centennial celebration and is also a Metropolitan Opera Eastern Region award winner.

Carl Blake (piano) holds three degrees in piano performance: Bachelor of Music (magna cum laude) from Boston University, Master of Arts from San Jose State University, and Doctor of Musical Arts from Cornell University. Dr. Blake has performed three times in Weill Recital Hall (formerly, Carnegie Recital Hall) and has toured in Russia, France, England, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands as Artistic Ambassador with cellist Kim Cook (Distinguished Professor of Music at The Pennsylvania State University) for the United States Department of State.  Currently, he serves as Director of Music of The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco and teaches piano in his private studio in Oakland.  Mr. Blake is a member of the Board of Directors of Noontime Concerts San Francisco.

Daniel Lockert as a soloist or collaborator is equally versatile on the piano, organ, and harpsichord. After getting his Bachelor’s in Piano Performance from Loma Linda University, he attended the University of Southern California and obtained an advanced degree in the specialized area of accompanying, studying with Gwendolyn Koldofsky, the pioneer teacher in the field. Daniel was the only American finalist in the first International Accompanying Competition held in the Netherlands. As an accompanist, he has had an active career accompanying choral groups, singers, and instrumentalists throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. He has collaborated with singers past and present in the Metropolitan Opera, such as Deborah Voigt.

Byron Burford-Phearse, Pianist (he/him) has been featured on recordings, chamber music, and solo recitals, as well as live radio broadcasts and music festivals around the world. Born in Seattle, WA, and raised in the Midwest, he has toured extensively across the United States and Europe as a versatile performer with a deep passion for all genres of music. For nearly two decades, Mr. Burford-Phearse has been based in New York City and featured in such festivals as the International Keyboard Festival and the École Normale de Musique de Paris as part of the European American Musical Alliance. He currently focuses on themed recitals with violinist Tami Lee Hughes and chamber music theatre with the  CORE Ensemble and has presented master classes and lecture-recitals in all 50 U.S. States, Canada, and Mexico. Mr. Burford-Phearse holds degrees, diplomas, and certificates from the University of Michigan (magna cum laude), the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Mannes College of Music (NYC), and the London School of Economics (LSE). He currently is a resident of the United Kingdom.

James Meredith is a native of North Carolina, Mr. Meredith received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University. He is a musical partner with mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. As a solo pianist, vocal and instrumental accompanist, and conductor in America, Europe, and Asia, his work has brought him into contact with such artists as Elly Ameling, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Eleanor Steber, Gerald Moore for whom he has played masterclasses. For four summers he was pianist Dalton Baldwin’s assistant in art song in masterclasses at the French Conservatory in Nice. Concerts with Ms. Von Stade included two appearances on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” each reaching a National Public Radio audience of over two million listeners and two concerts with Sonos in a premiere of Libby Larsen’s “Hell’s Belles.” He has been conductor of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, was on the faculty of Merritt College, taught masterclasses at Holy Names College, was Festival Opera chorus master, taught Art Song masterclasses at San Jose State University, and has been on the voice/piano faculty of the award-winning Young Musicians Choral Orchestra for 17 years where his students have won many competitions and been accepted at major US universities and conservatories.

About the Composers

Lena McLin
Lena McLin is recognized as one of America’s foremost composers of vocal and choral works. She has written more than 400 compositions including cantatas, symphonies and art songs, making her one of the most prolific African-American women composers of the 21st century. She is published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company.

McLin’s compositions have been performed throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the United States. Her cantata, Free at Last (a tribute to her childhood friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) received performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra. It was subsequently performed by the Icelandic Symphony, the Estonia Philharmonic, the Finnish National Opera Orchestra, the Savannah Symphony, the Minnesota Sinfonia, and Opera Ebony. Lena McLin’s composition, Makers of the History was commissioned and performed by the Opera Theater of Saint Louis and her composition “I’m a Soldier” was commissioned and premiered by Robert Sims with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra.

Lena McLin is a graduate of Spelman College and did graduate studies at the American Conservatory of Music and Roosevelt University. She taught music in the Chicago public high schools for 36 years, cultivating hundreds of young musicians. Her contributions to education, music and American culture have been recognized by her receipt of the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Chicago Public Schools and honorary doctorates from Spelman College and Virginia Union University.

Roland Carter
Distinguished composer, conductor, educator, and pianist, Roland Carter is the Ruth S. Holmberg Professor of American Music in the Department of Music at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). His accomplishments as a leading figure in the choral arts include concerts with major choruses and orchestras in prestigious venues nationwide; as well as lectures, workshops, and master classes. From presidential inaugurations to the smallest church, from scholarly presentations for national gatherings of musicians, educators, and preservationists to private coachings with individual singers, Mr. Carter lends his keen ear, bright mind, and talented hands to projects of every sort.

Dr. Carter has served on National Endowments for the Arts Heritage Access and Choral Panels and received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Shaw University. He was one of the 2003 Tennessee Governor’s Arts Awards in the Distinguished Artist category. In 2004, he was elected to honorary membership of the internationally acclaimed Morehouse Glee Club, joining the ranks of only two other musicians so honored– Robert Shaw and Leonard DePaur. Historic Abyssinian Baptist Church (NY) honored Carter with a program of his arrangements and composition in July 2005. For his outstanding contributions to American Music, he was given honorary membership in the nation’s largest music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and elected to the charter class of Signature Sinfonians. Most recently, he served as guest conductor of the 2008 Yale University High School Festival, and his arrangements were featured in a special recognition program by the 175th Anniversary committee of the Metropolitan AME Zion Church of Hartford, CT. In summer of 2009, The Chamber Choir of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, under the direction of Dr. Kevin Ford, released the Volume I of The Choral Music of Roland Carter.

Carter, having produced and appeared on programs for national and international radio and television networks, is noted, especially, as an authority on the performance and preservation of African American music. He is founder and CEO of Mar-Vel, a music publisher specializing in the music of African American Composers and traditions. Carter has directed the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song for 19 years, and served music advisor and principle guest conductor of the Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Houston, TX for twelve years. Unquestionably gifted composer-arranger, it is Carter’s arrangement of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” that is most often used to present the anthem in formal settings. His arrangements and settings have and continue to be performed by orchestras and choirs throughout the world. A colleague of his once shared her belief that the angels sat upon his shoulders and whispered the score for his arrangement of the spiritual, In Bright Mansions Above.

In addition to performance and academic pursuits, Carter has served on several boards including the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Southern Arts Foundation, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga. Chattanooga African American Museum/Bessie Smith Hall, and the National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music. Presently he sits on the boards of the League of American Orchestras, the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association, and is an honorary member of the board of directors of the Negro Spiritual Foundation, Orlando, FL, and the African American Music Foundation, San Diego, CA. Carter recently completed his sixth and final year as president of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., the nation’s oldest organization committed to the performance and preservation of African American music. He serves the music ministries of the Cascade United Methodist Church (Atlanta, GA) and the Christian Faith Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC).

Jacqueline B. Hairston
Jacqueline Butler Hairston is an award-winning ASCAP composer-arranger, pianist, music educator, and vocal coach. Originally from Charlotte, NC and formerly of the San Francisco Bay Area, she currently resides in Sacramento, CA. Jacqui received her pre-college music education from The Juilliard School, her Bachelor’s degree from Howard University (B.Mus.Ed.) and her Masters from Columbia University (Mus. Ed.).

Twice-invited as a guest conductor to present her own works at Carnegie Hall in 2012 and in 2016, Hairston has won numerous other honors — among them The Keeper of the Spiritual Award from Friends of Negro Spirituals (Oakland, CA), The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Living Heritage Foundation (Sacramento, CA), and the San Francisco (Channel 5-TV) Jefferson Award as Preserver of the Negro Spiritual, a title she resurrected from her acclaimed cousin, Dr. Jester Hairston.

Renowned soprano Kathleen Battle has presented Hairston’s works in recital and recorded her arrangements in her Grammy- Award-winning CD with Christopher Parkening. Most recently she has included them in her acclaimed, touring Underground Railroad concerts since 2011. A host of acclaimed, international orchestras and artists have performed Hairston’s works, among them include, The London Symphony, The Mormon Tabernacle, The Oakland Symphony, The Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon, William Warfield, Denyce Graves, Grace Bumbry, Robert Sims, Louise Toppin, Susheel Bibbs, and Darryl Taylor.

Jacqui’s life and compositional style have now been captured in a book by Phillip Harris, entitled Songs and Spirituals: The Life and Music of Jacqueline Hairston, and in her first published volume of songs and spirituals is available at this concert and through Classical Vocal Reprints.