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Social and Civic Whirl

Social and Civic Whirl: BTW High School Alumni Choir Celebrates 25 Years of Performing

ANN B. MCINNIS FOUNDER and FORMER DIRECTOR of the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ALUMNI CHOIR was Mistress of Ceremonies for the Choir’s 25th Anniversary Concert sponsored by the Booker T. Washington High School class of 1958. She WELCOMED the AUDIENCE, gave the INVOCATION and INTRODUCED THE CHOIR which had its beginning at a 1958 class reunion in 1994. Ann McInnis was asked to be in charge of the music for the ‘58 class reunion. During this wonderful occasion of classmates and friends coming together, a highlight was the singing of the group brought together and coordinated by McInnis. The successful musical performance inspired the singers to continue coming together singing joyful sounds. As they continued using their vocal and other musical talents to magnify the Lord, other singers who sang with the Booker T. choir, from 1942 through 1992 under the direction of maestro I. Sherman Greene, were invited to join the newly formed Booker T. Washington High School Alumni Choir. Today, the outstanding musical talents include Booker T. alumni, and friends from other Hampton Roads high schools.

The Alumni Choir under the direction of Julius E. McCullough, accompanied by Randy Walston, with Tony Watford/Bassist, Corey Brown, Percussionist and Guest Organist Geraldine T. Boone began the PROGRAMME with their theme song “O Sing Your Songs.” Following the theme song, the choir sang “Love One Another” the nonpublished work of Mack Wilberg, conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which was presented to the BTW Alumni Choir in honor and celebration of the choir’s 25th Anniversary. Soloist during Part I of the Concert were soprano Lorraine McFadden Bell who sang “Inflammatius” (When Thou Comest); “There Is A Balm In Gilead” sung by soprano Argreta Rasberry Russell; and tenor Ronald Myers singing “Lord I’m Out Here on Your Word.”

During INTERMISSION, ROBERT E. GRIFFIN, SR., CHAIRMAN/SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE, presented the two 2017 scholarship recipients – JOANN SMITH who will be attending Norfolk State University; and ROSE CONDY who has chosen Old Dominion University. ATTORNEY SEAN C. MITCHELL, a 1993 Scholarship Recipient, gave an emotional appeal to the audience expressing how important it is to contribute to scholarship funds for students seeking a higher education. He spoke about how much the money had meant to him because his family, like some other families, HAVE NOTHING – NO MONEY to CONTRIBUTE to further their dreams. Mitchell expressed how the money had been such a BLESSING to him.

The second half of the PROGRAMME began with guest soprano soloist Lorraine McFadden Bell accompanied by Roy Belfield who sang the premier arrangement of the “Lord’s Prayer” by Julius E. McCullough. This was followed by Evelyn Cason mezzo-soprano and baritone Curtis Dixon singing “Use Me Lord.” Vanessa Harvey/soprano and John Falls/tenor received a standing ovation as the featured duet singing “The Prayer.” The last three songs, “Use Me,” “Safe in His Arms,” and “He Never Failed Me Yet,” were each sung by soloists Laverne Wiggins Reed/mezzo-soprano, Brenda Walston/mezzo-soprano and soprano Sandra Spellman. All three ladies continued to showcase the vocal talents of all of the featured performers and the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI CHOIR.

President of the 1958 BTW class, Argreta Rasberry Russell, acknowledged persons who were instrumental in helping to make this 25th Anniversary Concert a success. This included a thank you to Mrs. Geraldine T. Boone guest organist; Lorraine McFadden Bell guest soprano soloist; and to both First Calvary Baptist and New Calvary Baptist Churches following allowing the choir to practice and perform in their sanctuaries. An inspirational BENEDICTION was performed by an assistant minister representing New Calvary Baptist Church. As the audience left the Concert, everyone was ready to “SING FOR JOY.”

Persons interested in helping to send students to college may make donations to the Scholarship Program by mailing their contribution to JOYCE L. VANN at 755 FREEMONT STREET, NORFOLK, VIRGINIA 23504.

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