By Marnita Coleman

Special to the AFRO

The Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, under the direction of Dr. Marco K. Merrick, lifted their voices together for a cause at the 2023 Scholarship Concert last month. The event took place at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore and was hosted by The Carter School of Music and the New Shiloh Progressive Workers. Maryland Delegate Malcolm P. Ruff, of District 41, was the guest speaker.

Dr. Harold A. Carter, Jr., pastor, graciously assured the dozens in attendance that it would be a wonderful time of great song, great music and great fellowship for a noteworthy cause.

“It’s my joy and good pleasure to thank the Lord, that He has allowed us to come together one more time for this annual concert to benefit the raising of scholarship funds” and “for the vision to make it happen for our sons and our daughters.” During his remarks, he thanked God for the presence and participation of one of God’s great choirs in our nation–not just in our city.

The Carter School of Music began September 15, 1994, under the leadership of the late, great Dr. Nathan M. Carter, Jr., headmaster, and Alethia B. Starke, who now serves as the executive director.

Members of the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, led by Dr. Marco Merrick, lift their voices each year for the good cause of helping scholars reach their educational goals. Photo: Courtesy of

Students are classically trained in: flute, clarinet, violin, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, percussion, viola, cello, piano, organ and voice. Each student is assigned a teacher who gives one, 30-minute private lesson per week. The school provides students the opportunity to discover the world of music and all its various facets.

The merit-based scholarships are available to current students ages five through 18 who have been enrolled in The Carter School of Music for at least one year.

Seventeen highly-talented students met the criteria for the 2023-2024 term. They are Rilyn Barksdale, Taysha Barnes, Caron Bowles, Josiah Coleman, Paris Goff, Eitan Green, Chloe Hines, Gregory LaBoo, Sydney LaBoo, Khalila Richards, Zachary Richards, Skye Rodgers, Olivia Smith, Jayla Stephens, Natalie Tynes, Jediael Ward and Jamir Whaley.

Skye Rodgers, recipient of The Delores Dora Greene Memorial Scholarship, made an appeal to the audience to “please give generously.”

“Through the years, most of us have been part of the village that financially supports us and has provided many opportunities for us,” Rodgers stated. “These opportunities help improve our self esteem and strengthen our practice skills. Like me, most of our students began school at five, six or seven. I am now 13 years old and I am truly enjoying every minute of my life. Most of us will remain at the school after we graduate from high school. Your financial offering will provide funds for us to seek the career of our choice.”

“Through the years, most of us have been part of the village that financially supports us and has provided many opportunities for us.”

Skye Rodgers

As a result of the scholarship donations, Christian Handy was able to attend Morgan State University as a freshman. He’s grateful for the support because it is enabling his dream of becoming a mechatronics engineer.

Delegate Ruff remembers very well being a young person in West Baltimore, and attending New Shiloh summer camp as a budding teen. “It was those times in my life where the village poured into me that has allowed me to be covered and blessed by the Lord. It is exactly why I have never left the Lord ever in my life.”

“My senior ‘OG colleague,’ Mr. Billy Murphy, would often say– ‘it is not failure that is sin; but low aim.’ Don’t set your goals where you think you can go,” said Ruff. “Set your goals to the highest heights and to the farthest widths to make sure that you are using every capacity that God has endowed you with. That is what your task is to never let it rest until your good is your better and your better is your best.”

The Community Concert Choir of Baltimore gave an unparalleled performance. They received a standing ovation as the glory of God filled the place. Never has a choir sung so heavenly!

The choir’s Annual Fall Concert will take place on Nov. 5  at 4 p.m. at Israel Baptist Church , located at 1200 N. Washington St. in Baltimore.