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D'Walla Simmons-Burke

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Maestra D'Walla Simmons-Burke has held teaching positions in Georgia, South Carolina and presently at Winston-Salem State University (North Carolina) where she is the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies for the Department of Music.

Simmons-Burke is the founder of four of the five choral ensembles currently existing within the Music Department at Winston-Salem State University (Winston-Salem State University Singin’ Divas; Schola Cantorum; Complesso Voce' and the renowned Burke Singers). The Winston-Salem State University Choir (aka Singing Rams) is one of the first student organizations founded at the university. The WSSU Choir has performed with the Gateways Symphony Orchestra; Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra, D'Vorak Symphony Orchestra, Colour of Music Festival Symphony Orchestra and the New England Symphony Orchestra and is well sought after for its performances of master choral works (i.e…Haydn's Creation; Handel's Messiah; Fauré’s Requiem; Rossini’s Stabat Mater; Orff's Carmina Burana; Mozart's Requiem; and Berlioz’s Te Deum), spirituals and world music.  Maestra Simmons-Burke has conducted Gabriel Fauré's Requiem with the New England Symphony and Symphony Chorale at Carnegie Hall.  She returned to Carnegie Hall to conduct the Winston-Salem State University Choir in a mini concert. Simmons-Burke has also performed internationally with her choral ensembles and as a guest conductor/lecturer in Prague, Czech Republic; Nassau, Bahamas; Accra, Cape Coast & Kumasi, Ghana - West Africa; and Pilanesberg, Cape Town and Johannesburg – South Africa.  Maestra Simmons-Burke has conducted The 105 Voices of History Concert Choir as a National Conductor at The John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center and in Nassau, Bahamas. She is a recipient of the 105 Voices of History Kennedy Center Performing Arts Award.  During her time with the 105 Voices of History, Simmons-Burke was the National Choral Coordinator and one of three conductors who lead the 105 Voices of History Concert Choir in their inaugural performance at the Grand Ole Opry. 

Maestra Simmons-Burke's choirs have recorded and produced nine compact disks (In Silent Night; Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing; I Wanna Be Ready; Hold Fast To Dreams; Pieces of A Dream; Joy To the World; 20th Anniversary Celebration In Honor of D'Walla Simmons-Burke; My God is a Rock; The Gift of Peace).  She has also produced three DVDs – Collaborative DVD with Singin' Black and White (Shout Hallelujah!: A New South Gospel Christmas); From Racism to Grace+ism and Stony The Road We Trod: Lifting Every Voice…Celebrating the Music of Roland M. Carter. 

Under Simmons-Burke's baton, her choral ensembles have performed for and/or with such regional and national and international dignitaries as President George W. Bush; Kweisi Mfume; Susan Taylor; former North Carolina Governor James Hunt; Maya Angelou; Dick Gregory; Patti Austin; Harry Belafonté; Madame President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Pope John Paul II, to name a few. Her exceptional and diverse vocal and choral pedagogies are continuously demonstrated through the outstanding students she has produced.  As a result, Simmons-Burke has been the recipient of several teaching awards such as the Winston-Salem State University Patterson Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, Winston-Salem State University Cedric Rodney Service Award and The John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts 105 Voices of History National Conductor's Award.  Formally, the Recording Academy, in partnership with the GRAMMY Foundation nominated Simmons-Burke for the Grammy's Music Educator of the Year Award.  Simmons-Burke has also been the recipient of many community service and performance awards for her achievements in music.

Maestra Simmons-Burke is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America and has held memberships in many other organizations such as the Music Educators National Conference; the American Choral Directors Association; the National Association of African American Studies; the National Association for the Study and Performance of African-American Music; National Association of Negro Musicians; The Intercollegiate Musicians Association; the National Associations for African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Latino Studies; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Moles, and The Links, Inc. 

Simmons-Burke has performed leading roles as a soprano in operas, such as Lost in the Stars; LaTraviata; Amahl and the Night Visitors; The Telephone; and The Old Maid and the Thief.  She has also made numerous guest appearances as a conductor and adjudicator for high school and middle school All-State/All-County festivals, collegiate choral festivals and workshops. She is often sought after as a sacred music, social justice and multicultural music clinician/lecturer and soprano.