Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir launches spring tour

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (Feb. 12, 2008) - The critically acclaimed Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir is launching its Spring 2008 Tour on Feb. 29. Through its several planned engagements, the ensemble is continuing a tradition of musical excellence.

"Music has played a significant role in the life of Tuskegee University from its inception," said Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, University President. "We continue to remember and to celebrate the music of our heritage, past and present." 

The choir had its beginnings in the late 1800s, close to the time of the University's founding. Students were enlisted to sing spirituals at weekly services in the school chapel. Even today, the importance of spirituals is conveyed through performances of the Golden Voices, including the upcoming tour.

"A major portion of our program is devoted to spirituals, because this type of song played a central role in the survival of black people during the brutal days of slavery, said Dr. Wayne Barr, choir director. "Through these songs, our ancestors gave vent to their unshakable faith in a loving God, their unbreakable will to affirm their humanity, and their abiding hope in a day beyond the harsh circumstances of their lives.

"Today, we sing so that these ancestors would not have believed and hoped in vain. We remember their pain, their sacrifice and vow to see their hopes fulfilled."

Under the leadership of renowned composer and educator William Levi Dawson, the Tuskegee Choir rose to international prominence with appearances at Radio City Music Hall in New York and the White House (1932), Constitution Hall (1946), and a host of popular television shows. The 1955 recording The Tuskegee Choir Sings Spirituals is still widely hailed as one of the best recordings of spirituals. The choir has also performed at the request of national leaders, such as President John F. Kennedy and William Jefferson Clinton.

According to Payton, the Golden Voices continues its legacy built during the beginnings of the University. While the choir is known worldwide, its initial audience is not forgotten. The choir still sings at various University functions, including campus worship services.

"When the choir sings - all listen," Payton said. "From our campus to stages all over the world, the Golden Voices sing with passion and unsurpassed choral technique. They are truly a treasure of Tuskegee and this country, as a whole."

In 2006, the Golden Voices produced a CD, Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit. The Spring 2008 Tour program includes works by Roland Carter, James Furman, Randall Thompson, C. Hubert H. Parry, and Dawson.

Barr said he and the choir are looking forward to spreading various positive messages through song across the country via the tour.

"Invitations to tour and perform grant the choir opportunities to share the beauty and message of faith, determination and hope," Barr said. "This is what we're about at Tuskegee University."

The tour's schedule is as follows:

Feb. 29:          Sea Island Presbyterian Church; 81 Lady's Drive; Beaufort, S.C.

March 1:          Hampton Street Auditorium, Walterboro, S.C.

March 2:          Wake Chapel Church, Raleigh, N.C.

March 3:          Hillside High School, Durham, N.C.

March 5:          Burlington Township High School, Burlington, N.J.,

                       Burlington Township Cultural Arts Center, Burlington, N.J.

March 6:          Resurrection Catholic Church, Moneta, Va.

For more information about the Golden Voices and to view video of past performances, go to www.tuskegee.edu/goldenvoices.

About Tuskegee University

Founded in 1881, Tuskegee University is home to approximately 3,000 students from more than 30 countries. The University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral, professional, master's and bachelor's degrees.

The academic programs are organized into five Colleges: The College of Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences; The College of Business and Information Sciences; The College of Engineering, Architecture, and Physical Sciences; The College of Liberal Arts and Education; and The College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health. The curricula for the five colleges currently offer 49 degrees, including 35 bachelor's, 11 master's, a Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering; a Doctor of Philosophy in Integrative Biosciences, and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.