©St. Louis African Chorus, April 2002. All rights reserved.

THE VOLUNTEERS THAT MAKE THE CHORUS SING!

Much has been written or said about the impact of the arts, especially the African Chorus project, on the social fabric of our metro area. But all too often very little is mentioned of the volunteers who devote countless hours and energy in the day-to-day workings of our beloved organizations. Although we communicate regularly with our volunteers, and often, in very little tokens, show our appreciation, we have found it not only expedient, but proper to publicly express our gratitude to this group of fine St. Louisans who help us to run the St. Louis African Chorus. This issue of the Voice of African Music is therefore dedicated in gratitude to those individuals who, in so many ways, provide us assistance, carry out tasks on our behalf, or contribute financially or otherwise to our viability as an arts organization. We have invited some of them to introduce themselves as well as share a few comments with our readers.

Beverly Perry

I am blessed to be a wife, mother, grandmother and educator, who taught in the St. Louis Public Schools for 34 years.

As an educator and music lover, I was and am drawn to the opportunity to learn more about Africa’s rich cultural heritage through the innate multidisciplinary qualities that are unique to the African music produced and presented by the St. Louis African Chorus. There is something in the music that addresses all modalities and evokes a gamut of emotions within me.

I have been a volunteer for the St. Louis African Chorus since its establishment in 1994 and a board member since 1995. It has been gratifying, but humbling to have watched and shared in our organization’s growth and development under the inspired and dynamic leadership of our founder and artistic director, Fred Onovwerosuoke. Now, retired from teaching, I am privileged to be able to devote more time and energy to volunteering and serving on the Chorus board of directors.

I love to travel, too. Volunteering with Chorus has not only afforded me the opportunity to travel throughout metro St. Louis, other parts of the U.S. and South America. Through the Chorus I’ve also fulfilled a lifelong and self-affirming dream to journey to Africa - land of my heritage. While traveling with the St. Louis African Chorus family, I have witnessed and experienced first-hand the breakdown of cultural barriers precipitated by Chorus performances and loving outreach. These experiences have helped to broaden understanding and appreciation of different cultures and the kinship that we share.

As a volunteer and board member, I am also encouraged by the enthusiasm and diversity of committed people who generously support and work selflessly and tirelessly together in furthering our organization’s mission.

Spiritually and emotionally, my association with the Chorus has been refreshing and in many ways healing for me. I am blessed and love being of service to the premier arts organization for music in African languages, the St. Louis African Chorus.

Katie Guyton

I grew up in a little small town in the bootheel of Missouri. After graduating from Delta C-7 High School at the age of 17, decided to come to the “big city” to conquer the world! I graduated from Harris Stowe State College with a BA Degree in Elementary Education and extended certification inn Mathematics. I worked in the Normandy School District as a 7th grade math teacher and later became a remedial math teacher for grades 3-6. I also thought freshman math Caruthersville and has served as GED teacher for the St. Louis Public Schools.

I attended Font Bonne College where I received a MA degree in Computers in Education. Currently I am working with the Pattonville School District as a 6th grade math and reading teacher.

I am a divorcee and have one daughter, Keri, who is a member of the St. Louis African Chorus. Keri joined the Chorus in 1997 and I signed up to be a volunteer. I love to travel and God blessed me to tour Africa and Brazil with the Chorus as Volunteer/Chaperone and part of the tech crew.

Being a Volunteer for the chorus has allowed me to meet a variety of people and broaden my knowledge of different cultures. I enjoy working with all the volunteers, because we are like a close-knit family!

Delmar Brimble

Born in Michigan, but have lived in St. Louis most of my life. Live in the Carondelet Neighborhood of St. Louis, near Loughborough and I-55. Have a lot of education, training, certifications, etc., in the Information

And telecommunications systems field: education is never-ending in this area, so I’m still at it to keep up to date - and I enjoy it. Have been active in, and have served officerships in various organizations, including the Data Processing Management Association, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society for two year degree granting institutions, and the Arts Commandos, the volunteer arm of the Regional Arts Commission.

I work for the City of St. Louis, for the Community Development Administration. This organization, the Planning and Design Agency and the St. Louis Development Corporation together the City Development Agencies, which are responsible for the housing and economic development in St. Louis.

I work in the Information Systems area as a Technical Specialist, at this point providing hardware and software technical support, applications and systems development, training, and implementing and working with sets of key operators and other specialists.

First got acquainted with the St. Louis African Chorus through the Arts Commandos at the time of the Eritrean Wedding show at the Sheldon. I took a great liking to all of the persons and to what they and the Chorus do. I’m glad that the liking worked both ways, and still does. From that time, I became a regular volunteer directly with the Chorus and all of their doings.

It is enjoyable, enlightening, and fulfilling to be a part of the activities of the chorus, to be with the other folks, and to work as part of the volunteer group. So much so, in fact, that I am an avid supporter and promoter, at work and wherever I go.

J. Justin Meehan

J. Justin Meehan, a local civil rights, entertainment and personal injury lawyer has received many awards for his legal and his commitment to civil rights multiculturalism and diversity. He is also a nationally recognized writer and teacher of Tai Chi and Kung.

Adeoye Olukotun, M.D.

A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Dr. Olukotun is currently Chief Executive Officer of CR Strategies, L.L.C. He began his career as associate director at the Geisinger Clinic. He also worked for Pfizer, Inc. and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation. He served as vice president

for two divisions of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation. In 1996, he joined Mallinckrodt Inc. as Vice President, Medical and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Medical Officer.

Oye’ earned his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina , his M.D. degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and his M.P.H. from the Harvard University School of Public Health . He has held academic appointments at the Mayo Clinic, Hershey Medical School, and Yale University School of Medicine. He currently serves as a fellow of the Councils on Radiology, Thrombosis, & Vascular Diseases, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, The American College of Chest Physicians, and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. He is also a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians, the American Society of Tropical Medicine &Hygiene, the North American Society for Cardiac Imaging, Industrial Research Institute, Inc. and the New York Academy of Science. He currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Council of the Harvard Malaria Initiative, serves on the Board of Directors of Bio Medical Systems , Inc. and Global Biomedical Research, Inc., and is a member of the Overseers’ Committee to Visit the Harvard School of Public Health. He has authorized over thirty publications in scientific journals.

Oye and his wife, Judy, have three sons and live on a small farm outside of Princeton, New Jersey.

Carolyn Jones

My name is Carolyn Jones. My occupations is a computer programmer/analyst.

I first became associated with the St. Louis African Chorus in 1996. The St. Louis African Chorus was having a workshop at Harris-Stowe College, and a friend of mine, Ruth Smith had heard about the workshop from a teacher she worked with, who planed on attending the workshop. At the time I attended the same church as Ruth, and I was very much involved with young girls and dance. Ruth thought we should attend the workshop, so we contacted Fred and we all attended the workshop on a scholarship from the St. Louis African Chorus. That was the beginning of a rewarding experience. Since that time my involvement with the chorus has been a dance director, singer, world traveler and volunteer, and I owe all of this, to this wonderful organization. It has been so fulfilling. I would encourage anyone to become a volunteer. Believe me, what you’ll receive will be far more than you can contribute.

Jamie Spencer

Jamie Spencer is a native St. Louisan. He is Assistant Professor of English at the Florissant Valley campus of the St. Louis Community College, where he has taught on an adjunct basis since 1977. He also is an Adjunct English Instructor at the St. Charles County Community College. He writes occasional book reviews for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

He joined the board of the St. Louis African Chorus in the summer of 2000. He had served previously in several capacities on the Board of the Bach Society of St. Louis, including several years as President. He serves also as a Citizen Panelist on the Missouri Arts Commission’s Multi-disciplinary Arts panel.

Each of these community leaders, and others not included for lack of space, is to be credited with the successes of the St. Louis African Chorus. As you must have noticed, some of them do double duty by serving on our board of directors. They have helped to guide an ambitious mission to avail our community of new mode of artistic expression. They have helped to foster and propagate, as well as preserve a unique art tradition.

As we enter our 2002/2003 season, we would like to invite you to join these eminent St. Louisans and become a volunteer of the St. Louis African Chorus. True, we need more hands to help stuff envelopes; more people to help man our phones; to usher at concerts and special events; and, oh yes, more great minds to help shoulder what we like to call “a privileged responsibility…” The rewards are many, paramount among which is the cultural enrichment gained by becoming intimate with the African Chorus Project. Then, there’s also the usual perks: free tickets and mementos, performing-member discount on concert trips abroad. An African proverb says: more mouths feed when more farm the land. This season make a commitment to the St. Louis African Chorus. To join our Volunteers call Beverly Perry at 314-652-6800.

Again, our profound public gratitude for the hard work and stellar contributions by these volunteers. The African Chorus Project could never sing without your support.

 

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