(Photo Courtesy of Kay Jon Photography)
On the second Saturday of each month, the warm and embracing sound of a choir rehearsing rises from the basement of the Journey of Faith Church on Liberty Road. The voices are so rich, polished and laden with soulful expression the immediate assumption is that an adult choir is singing. However, what you will find are young people, the abundantly talented Singing Sensations Youth Choir.
Nearly 11 years ago, while teaching music at Furman L. Templeton Elementary School, Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey decided she wanted her students to have the opportunity to travel with their music as her own kids were doing through dance. Mincey’s three children were members of a dance troupe that traveled internationally, and she went with them.
Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey (Courtesy Photo)
“I traveled with them to England, Paris, and all these wonderful places, and I started asking myself, ‘How can I do this for Baltimore City children?’” she explains.
Mincey prayed about it, asking God how she could make it happen for kids with no money, and it wasn’t long before she got a vision for a touring choir, the Singing Sensations. She took the idea to her principal. “I want to take these kids on tour for 10 days,” she said. “They’re going to wear tuxedos at the spring concert. They’re going to wear gowns.” She said her principal replied, “That’s not going to happen. You’ve got to raise money.”
The determined music teacher says her response was, “Okay. And, then we did it.”
“We got started in the community at Furman L. Templeton Elementary School. This is our 10th year, We’ve been to Canada, Trinidad, Africa . . . and we continue. And, God keeps opening up doors. We don’t have any foundation that’s backing us. We kind of raise money selling candy bars and cinnamon buns.”
That is one reason that the choir’s upcoming Black History Month Concert, “I, Too, Sing America,” is so important. The concert 5 p.m. March 22 in the Gilliam Concert Hall is presented by Morgan State University’s Fine and Performing Arts Department. It will feature the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore and New Town High School Choir, and is a major fundraiser for the youth choir that has provided scholarships and life-altering experiences for its members.
Atiya Jacobs started with the choir when it began, and she was in the first grade. Now, an 18-year-old senior in high school, she says belonging to the choir is a blessing that opened up a world of experiences she never thought possible. She said the choir’s trip to South Africa, about 18 months ago, was her most meaningful experience, so far.
“It honestly changed me. I have become more humble from it,” she said. “I know it would have never happened if I wasn’t in the choir.”
While travel is one thing that the group’s fundraising efforts support, raising scholarship funds is of importance to Mincey. “Our whole push is that every kid that participates goes to college,” she explains. “So, we try to raise money just to make sure there is no reason they cannot go.”
Last year, four choir members graduated from high school, and each received a $2,000 scholarship. Mincey is hoping to give as much or more, when three members graduate this year.
This time of year, the choir goes into high gear for travel and fundraising with its Spring Break Tour, and annual Spring Break occurrence for the past 10 years. Things will be a little different this year, however, because parents have been invited to join them, keepng families together for Easter. The group, 90 strong, will travel to churches, schools, and nursing homes in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, sharing their joy for music.
Then, June 23, the young singers who are often complimented as much for their model behavior as they are for their singing, will travel to Dallas, Texas to perform at Bishop T. D. Jakes’ Potter’s House, followed by a 10-day tour in the Bahamas, July 17-27.
While Dr. Mincey has enjoyed great success touring the choir and providing scholarships for her students, her goal of having the Singing Sensations Youth Choir perform for President Barack Obama at the White House remains unfulfilled. “My kids have sung with Donnie McClurkin, Karen Clark Sheard … and for Congressman Elijah Cummings. My hope and dream is to take the choir to the White House. We wrote a song for Obama. My kids are clearly good enough to be there. We want to sing for President Obama,” she says in a tone that indicates determination, which will not be denied.
For additional information about the Singing Sensations Youth Choir and its upcoming concert, visit http://www.sensationalsingers.org/, or call 443-622-4994 or 443-929-2603. Information is also available at www.morgan.edu.