Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is this THE END for The Boys Choir of Harlem?

I simply can't believe this is happening....Oooohh...HELLO? Jay-Z & P. Diddy y'all know you need to step in and correct this situation asap!! This institution has saved the lives of thousands of young black men by taking them off the streets by allowing them to see the world OUTSIDE of their neighborhoods, educating and nurturing their dreams & talents through music. We desperately need outlets like these to continue to nurture, mentor and educate our young men.

My love of music (and English) certainly kept me from dropping out of high school cuz for a long minute I found the streets much more appealing than school...lol...
Your thoughts fam?

For the audiences that marveled at the Boys Choir of Harlem, it was an additional wonder that the young performers with world-class voices had emerged from some of the most difficult neighborhoods of New York. December was always a busy month, as the choir toured the country’s premier concert halls and appeared on television Christmas specials.

But this year, the boys are nowhere to be found. Last week, Terrance Wright, a 39-year-old choir alumnus, picked up a microphone in front of the altar of Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church in Harlem, the choir’s last home, and delivered news that surprised few people but saddened many.

“Tell the people. Let it be known,” Mr. Wright said, glistening and exhausted after leading a Christmas concert by former singers in the choir. “There is no Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem.”

The choir’s last official performance was in 2007, around the time of the death of its founder, Walter J. Turnbull. But no one ever announced that it was gone. Board members and alumni had hoped to revive it, but they acknowledged last week that they had not had any success.

For a famous organization that politicians had vowed would outlive its founder, it had a quiet end. Many of the choir’s materials, like copies of handwritten scores and its trademark burgundy blazers, now sit in black garbage bags and open boxes in the church’s damp dirt-floor basement, amid overturned tables and sacks of plaster of Paris.

Led by Dr. Turnbull, who started the group in 1968, the choir sang at the White House for nearly every president since Lyndon B. Johnson, and it was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Bill Clinton. But it did not survive long enough to perform for the country’s first black president.

The choir’s demise as a functional organization was a result of many factors, but everyone agrees it was set in motion by a single episode: an accusation by a 14-year-old boy in 2001 that a counselor on the choir’s staff had sexually abused him. The counselor eventually was sentenced to two years in prison.

To read the full NY Times article click HERE

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