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Black Arts and Culture

The Boys Choir of Hampton Roads Triumphs In West Palm Beach

Submitted by Julius McCullough
Special to the New Journal and Guide

During the week of July 16 through July 21, the Boys Choir of Hampton Roads was privileged to travel to West Palm Beach, Florida to attend and perform at the 97th annual Convention of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., (NANM). The theme of this year’s convention was “Building A … Bigger … Bolder … Brighter … Future!”
The six young representatives of the Boys Choir, De’Varr Brickhouse, soprano; Ian Poole, soprano; Nathaniel Dunaway, alto; Xiano Bell, tenor; Corjay Nowlin-Britt, tenor; Troy Dunaway, bass made their presence known as their charm, discipline and gentlemanly behavior ingratiated them in the hearts and minds of the convention attendees who came from all across America.

Not only did these young men enjoy the food and fun and enjoyed swimming in the Hilton Hotel swimming pool, they also participated in various workshop provided by the convention which included “The History of NANM;” “The Hip-Hop Effect;” “Black Voices in Opera and Concert;” “The Art of Jazz” and “The Spiritual as Protest Music” and they were also the core members of the Youth Chorus comprising youth and collegiate singers from all across the country.

The Boys Choir’s performance on Wednesday, July 20th opened the Convention Youth Choral Concert with “Jesus Christ Is The Way” with De’Varr Brickhouse as soloist followed by “Alleluia” by William Boyce. Ian Poole and De’Varr Brickhouse, boy sopranos, beautifully performed the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Pie Jesu.” The final selection of the Boys portion of the program was “Make Them Hear You.” As the last note rang out, the roar of the enthusiastic applause from the adoring convention audience was deafening while the sustained standing ovation from the most renowned musicians in the country raved over the musical presentation of these young musicians.

Founded in Chicago in 1919, the NANM is the country’s oldest organization dedicated to the preservation, encouragement and advocacy of all genres of the music of African-Americans. Music teachers and musical performers have the chance to meet and compare notes with their counterparts from other parts of the country; to hear concerts from familiar and unfamiliar musical literature; to become acquainted with the new teaching techniques that were discussed in the workshops; to benefit from exposure to high standards of musicianship; to discuss mutual problems and strategize solutions; and to enhance the status of the private music studios by allowing prize students to compete for scholarships. Here, too, was an opportunity for young musicians to benefit not only from scholarships but also from the attention of professional musicians and to enjoy the fellowship of other young aspiring musicians.
There was the chance for the church or community choir singer to blend his or her voice with the NANM convention choir, perhaps in the singing of a choral masterwork, directed by a renowned conductor.

For the aspiring artist, there was the opportunity to be heard by peers and to see, even meet, recognized performers. And within the NANM meetings, was a platform for the seasoned artist to perform. In short, by providing a critical mass of African-American musicians at its annual conventions and sustaining a network of communication throughout the year, NANM offers opportunities for growth as well as for fraternization with fellow musicians. NANM ‘98 will be held in New Orleans, LA, July 2017.

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Tidewater Area Musicians Branch of the NANM, supporters of the Boys Choir of Hampton Roads, welcomes new members. Members need only be music lovers and supporters. Meetings are held at 5 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the Fine Arts Building at Norfolk State University, room 329. This season begins on September 7.

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The Boys Choir invites all young men from ages 7 through high school graduation to join this amazing organization. All ethnicities are welcome.
The new season begins September 8, 2016, 4:30 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 913 Covenant Street, Norfolk, VA.
Please call Julius E. McCullough, Artistic Director at (757) 553-7545/Geraldine T. Boone, Founder/Accompanist, (757) 436-3746 for more information.

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