This year’s Noah and Georgia Ryder Commemorative Concert, held at Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church, showcased the musical talent of the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ALUMNI CHOIR. The Choir was founded in 1994 by Ann B. McInnis following a 1958 Booker T. Washington (BTW) class reunion. During the reunion a group of classmates organized by Ann, staged a wonderful performance. After the reunion, the group decided to continue singing giving birth to the BTW Alumni Choir. As time went on the choir, most of whom sang with the Booker T. High School Choir under the direction of I. Sherman Greene, included members from 1943 through 1992. Since the beginning, the Choir has grown to include relatives and friends of BTW who love to sing. For the past 23 years, the BTW Alumni Choir has shared their melodious voices to capacity audiences throughout the community.
During the 35th Commemorative Noah and Georgia Ryder Concert, the Norfolk Alumni Chapter took time to honor, ANN DOUGLAS BROOKS MCINNIS, the FOUNDER of THE BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ALUMNI CHOIR. Ann McInnis, a 1958 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and an alumna of Norfolk State University, retired as director of this talented group of singers in 2015. However, she is still active with the group playing the piano and singing.
Julius E. McCullough, a graduate of Norfolk State, is the newest and only the second director of this magnificent choir. In addition to director McCullough, the Choir is accompanied by Randy Walston on piano and percussionist Melvin Jordan.
Essence Hansberry, a Norfolk State University student and former Norfolk State Alumni Scholarship Recipient, served as Mistress of Ceremony. Following Hansberry’s GREETINGS, the Chaplain of the Alumni Chapter, Roderick Bridgers, did the INVOCATION and Ms. Hansberry gave The OCCASION and INTRODUCED the ALUMNI CHOIR. Their repertoire, before the INTRMISSION, included songs from Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corps” to “Come Here Jesus, If You Please” and “In Bright Mansions Above” arranged by Roland Carter. Ronald Myers/tenor and Doretha McCoy/contralto beautifully performed Nathan Carter’s arrangement of “O For A Faith.” Prior to intermission, the OFFERTORY PRAYER was rendered by chapter member Sarah Sweatt and OFFERING, Anthony Hill, First Vice President of Norfolk Alumni Chapter/NSU, Presented the Honoree – ANN B. MCINNIS – with GREAT ACCOLADES and FLOWERS.
The audience was blessed with 3 songs sung by outstanding soloist who received thunderous applause and a standing ovation. McCullough and choir member Quentin Hicks conducted “And He Blessed My Soul;” Brenda Walston sang “Changed;” and “He Never Failed Me Yet” was sung by Sandra Spellman. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS were given by, Paul Wright, President of the Norfolk Alumni Chapter of Norfolk State University; and the BENEDICTION by Rev. Joseph P. Lee/Pastor of Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church. The BOOKER T. ALUMNI CHOIR closed the 35th Noah and Georgia Ryder Commemorative Concert with “How Great Is Our God.” Co-Chairs for this wonderful concert were the husband and wife team – Roderick and Sonja Bridgers – who should be commended for a splendid job.
The next performance of the Booker T. Alumni Choir, which is OPEN and FREE to the public will be held at 5 p.m. on SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2017 AT NEW CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH in NORFOLK. PLEASE COME OUT and HELP SUPPORT THIS FUNDRAISING EVENT SPONSORED BY the BTW CLASS of 1958 and the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ALUMNI CHOIR. YOU WILL TRULY ENJOY THIS INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC!!!