Simmons-Burke, Choir Students Will Represent WSSU at US-Bahamian Music Gala on May 21

Burke and Students

From left to right: alto, JaKenya Pearson; director, D'Walla Simmons-Burke; and tenor Brandon Gaines.

April 18, 2011
   D'Walla Simmons-Burke, director of choral and vocal studies at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), will serve as one of the featured conductors for "One Voice," a musical showcase May 21 in Nassau.

    Simmons-Burke and two of her choir students, Brandon Gaines and JaKenya Pearson, will participate in the U.S.-Bahamian music gala that is designed to celebrate the linkages of cultures, leadership, legacies, tradition and talent between American and the Bahamas.  Gaines and Pearson will again be part of the 105 Voices of History HBCU National Choir that features singers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities from throughout the country.  Simmons-Burke will again be one of the featured conductors for the choir.  Simmons-Burke, Gaines and Pearson participated in the 105 Voices performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in September 2010.

    Simmons-Burke has been director of choral and vocal studies and coordinator of the choral, vocal and piano areas of the Fine Arts Department at WSSU for 20 years.  She is the founder of three of the four choral ensembles at the university.  Pearson, an alto, and Gaines, a tenor, are both from Greensboro.

    The U.S.-Bahamian music gala will also include the College of the Bahamas Choir and the Bahamas National Youth Choir singers and the conductors for both groups.  The other featured conductors will be Dr. Carl Smith from Kentucky State University and Professor Damon Dandridge, a graduate student at Michigan State University.  The concert will be held at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau and highlight classical, Negro spirituals, jazz and gospel music as well as African American and Caribbean composers.

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