New Providence
U.S. Ambassador Avant Opens the ‘One Voice’ Musical Gala Showcasing Young Bahamian and American Vocal Talent
By US Embassy
May 24, 2011 - 4:26:14 PM

U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas Nicole A. Avant gives remarks during the opening of the 105 Voices Music Gala at Christ Church Cathedral on May 21. (Photo Peter Ramsay)

Nassau, Bahamas - The Christ Church Cathedral came alive on Saturday, May 21, to a spectacular performance by the “105 Voices of History” choir that included over 100 talented students representing The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the United States of America.   Under the theme, “One Voice”, the musical gala featured students representing National Historically Black Colleges and Universities – known as HBCUs – from throughout the United States and Bahamian students from The College of The Bahamas Choir and the Bahamas National Youth Choir.  The three hour “One Voice” musical gala showcased a wide repertoire including classical, Negro spirituals, jazz, gospel and music with Bahamian folk influences.

Dignitaries at the performance included the Her Excellency Nicole Avant, U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas, the Honorable Sir Michael Barnett, Chief Justice and Lady Barnett, the Honorable Charles T. Maynard, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, and Senator the Honorable Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism.

In her remarks United States Ambassador Nicole Avant applauded Renata Roy, head of Partners Achieving Success and the “105 Voices of History” organization for coordinating the musical gala and for choosing The Bahamas for the choir’s first concert performance outside the United States.  Ambassador Avant also commended the role that the 105 HBCUs have played in higher education since their inception over one hundred and fifty years ago.

U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas Nicole Avant (center) with D’Walla Simmons-Burke, Conductor, Winston-Salem State University (left) and Lady Barnett (right) during the 105 Voices gala. (Photo US Embassy)

“This evening’s performance by the combined ‘One Voice’ Choir is a testament to the international impact of HBCUs and their commitment to providing young people with the academic, social and leadership skills needed to become citizens of the world,” Ambassador Avant said.  “The ‘One Voice’ choir represents a celebration of the common cultural heritage that the U.S. and The Bahamas shares and embodies the strength and diversity of the arts.”

U.S. Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas was one of the event’s top sponsors via a $6,000.00 grant to support to the participation of 43 Bahamian students in a three-day Leadership Academy-Vocal and International Development workshop which took place at the Wyndham Hotel from May 17 to 20.  The eight student winners of the 2011 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Essay competition also attended the performance as Ambassador Avant’s special guests.  Bahamasair generously donated round trip airline tickets for MLK Essay winners from Abaco, Grand Bahama, and San Salvador to bring the students together for the first time since their trip to Atlanta with Ambassador Avant in January 2011.

The evening’s performance concluded with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, further demonstrating the deep ties between the United State and The Bahamas.  Known as the African-American National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was composed by a Bahamian school principal, James Weldon Johnson, in 1900 to introduce the school’s honored guest, Booker T. Washington. The poem was later set to music by Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, in 1905.

The “One Voice” musical gala featured top conductors from The Bahamas and the United States. The Bahamas was represented by Mrs. Audrey Dean-Wright the conductor of The College of The Bahamas Choir and Mr. Cleophas R.E. Adderley (pictured center) the conductor of the Bahamas National Youth Choir. The American conductors included Dr. Carl Smith, Kentucky State University, D’Walla Simmons-Burke, Winston-Salem State University, Damon H. Dandridge, 2008 National Conductor, 105 Voices of History, and Royzell Dillard, Hampton University, Dr. Robert L. Morris, Academy Dean. (Photo Peter Ramsay)

U.S. Ambassador Nicole A. Avant met with the members of the 105 Voices Choir at her Liberty Overlook Residence on Friday, May 20. (Photo US Embassy)

Marcia Miles, Bahamian pianist with members of the 105 Voices Choir during the Gala Performance at Christ Church Cathedral on May 21. (Photo Peter Ramsay)

The eight student winners of the 2011 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Essay competition attended the performance as special guests of U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas Nicole A. Avant. (Photo US Embassy)

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