The Kennedy Center

Wilberforce University Choir



Biography

The Wilberforce University Choir traces its roots back to 1878 as a standing reminder of the days when the traveling chorus was the life and support for many of our historically black colleges and universities; of which Wilberforce University stands proud as the first. Over the years, the Choir has traveled extensively and has undergone the leadership of several directors. Today’s Choir is composed of more than fifty singers, led by Director Jeremy Winston. The Choir’s repertoire includes a variety of artistic genres, such as the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras of the Classical style, the African-American concert and traditional spirituals, traditional and contemporary gospel, vocal and instrumental jazz, as well as opera and Broadway styles.

Since Mr. Winston has led the Choir, it has embarked on an exciting artistic path. For its annual Spring Concert in April of 2004, the Choir hosted tenor Roderick Dixon from the critically acclaimed Cook, Dixon and Young and 3 Mo’ Tenors, in a one-time performance of Adolphus Hailstork’s I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes. In November 2004, the Choir introduced its annual fall concert at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Jamaica Queens, New York which featured jazz artist Rachelle Ferrell. In April 2005, the second annual Spring Concert hosted Ray Charles’ longtime manager and business partner, Joe Adams, as he presented the first Ray Charles Award to opera star Kathleen Battle. This evening extravaganza featured the Wilberforce University Choir and Grammy Award Winners Take6 honoring the operatic artistry of Ms. Battle and the musical genius of Ray Charles.

The Wilbeforce University does two annual national tours, in spring and summer. During Spring Break at Wilbeforce University, the Choir travels to the East Coast, and concertizes in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and D.C. The Summer Tour has taken the Choir West, to perform in cities such as Boise, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. The Choir last performed on Millennium Stage in spring of 2008.

Wynton Marsalis said that he was “deeply honored” to have The Choir perform with him and the Lincoln Jazz Orchestra on the World Premiere of his Mass at the Lincoln Jazz Center in New York City. Featuring many soloists from Wilberforce University Choir, this performance was broadcast live over XM Radio and aired live on the Lincoln Jazz Center’s website. Two weeks later, the Choir was featured at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The choir shared the stage of the most significant American jazz festival with Kim Burrell, Byron Cage, Stevie Wonder, and many others.
Wilberforce University Choir