The Burke Singers
The Winston-Salem State University Burke Singers are a female a cappella vocal ensemble founded on the campus of Winston-Salem State University, March, 1995 by D'Walla Simmons Burke, Director of Choirs and Vocal Studies. D'Walla saw a need to add variety, emotion and a since of political awareness to the choral program and to the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The songs performed by the Burke Singers display a variety of African-American sacred music, African and American civil rights support songs, and world political awareness songs. Most of the music rendered by the Burke Singers are those sung by SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK and written/arranged by Bernice Johnson Reagan, founder of this world renowned vocal ensemble.
In its brief existence, many community and university groups such as arts council board meetings, book clubs, church services, civic organizational banquets, public schools, and inaugural ceremonies of universities have solicited the Burke Singers to perform and “tell the story”. The Burke Singers were invited in March, 1997 as one of the featured guests, to perform at the National Black Music Caucus’ 25th Anniversary Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme of the conference was "A Celebration of African-American Music". Kweisi Mfume (NAACP) has identified this ensemble as "a spiritually uplifting story-teller and a powerful African-American female ensemble of unique harmonies." The members of this ensemble bring with them such diverse backgrounds as elementary education, early childhood education, biology, music business, mass media communications, nursing and accounting. Susan Taylor (Essence Magazine Editor) has described them as “strong women with a strong message". The Burke Singers are more than just a vocal ensemble. Our songs, sounds and lyrics give the listener a different way to hear the songs of old, a new way.