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Sunday concert spotlights Black classical musicians

Bill DeYoung



Soprano Maiya Stevenson. Photos provided.

Classic Black, the annual benefit concert for the Woodson African American Museum of Florida, is a celebration of African American excellence in classical music. The performers at Sunday’s 5 p.m. Palladium Theater concert include local, regional and national musicians of renown.

Maiya Stevenson is an accomplished opera singer from St. Pete. The soprano is a graduate of Gibbs High School’s Pinellas County Center for the Arts and Florida A&M University (with the Young Adults Honors Ensemble, she soloed at Carnegie Hall in 2016). Stevenson spent a month in Bulgaria in 2017, where she played the pivotal role of Donna Anna in a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She became a City of St. Petersburg Sunshine Ambassador in 2018.

As a member of the Sarasota Choral Society, Stevenson will sing The Children’s March, composer Andrew Bleckner’s historical oratorio, in March. Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault will be the narrator for the performance, at Church of the Palms in Sarasota.

Also scheduled to perform:

Violist Carlos Walker, part of the Woodson Warrior scholarship program. He was a member of the 2020 National Youth Orchestra, and is currently in his second year at the McDuffie Center for Strings.

John Lamb

Jazz legend John Lamb, who played standup bass with Duke Ellington (and many others) and is a longtime resident of St. Pete.

Soprano Taylor McCray Honor also graduated from the Gibbs PCCA magnet program, and in her college years was a member of the Bethune-Cookman University Concert Chorale.

Nia Drummond combines jazz roots, operatic training, early gospel influence and R&B stylings – along with extensive (and lauded) classical work, the New York vocalist has sung background for Elton John, Bette Midler, Valerie Simpson, Fantasia, John Legend and others.

Gregory Sheppard

Bass vocalist Gregory Sheppard is a New Yorker who’s been heard in opera, concert and recitals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe for more than 30 years.

Jeremiah Abiah is a globally-known vocal coach, singer, songwriter and producer. “There is no gimmick to what I do,” he says on his website. ”You simply have to learn how to breathe and release the sound in a relaxed way without forcing the voice into unnatural places. Singing is an extension of speech. It doesn’t come from your diaphragm!!! Any time someone tells that, I suggest you run.”

Yohance Wicks is a tenor vocalist, pianist, music and theater teacher, and director of the Ruth Eckerd Hall Chorus and Ensemble.

American Stage’s Erica Sutherlin will host.

Tickets for Classic Black are available here.



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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Clinton Byrd

    January 25, 2023at1:39 pm

    Phenomenal. Love it. Keep up the great work and tremendous cultural events.

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