Being a world renown vocal artist and an ordained Seventh day-Adventist minister is just one part of Wintley Phipps’s sprawling résumé.
In addition to performing for an extensive list of notable figures including former South African President Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and all of the U.S. presidents from Ronald Reagan onward, the Trinidad and Tobago native also serves as a motivational speaker and education activist.
Following his creation of the U.S. Dream Academy, a national afterschool program that provides mentoring and tutoring to children whose parents are incarcerated, Phipps actively worked to reduce the number of Black males entering prison. He started the organization over thirty years ago after being inspired by his many visits and performances at prisons across the country.
“I was shaken by what I saw,” Phipps told the AFRO during a recent interview. “I saw so many young men in prison who looked liked my sons—they were in their ‘20s and some of them were in there for 10 to 15 years.”
Following its inception, the organization garnered tremendous support from many noteworthy figures including former President Bill Clinton, Winfrey, Chris Tucker and Bebe Winans, among many other supporters.
Collington Square Elementary School in Baltimore was the site of one of the earliest Dream Academy Learning centers, but has since closed. However, a program will reopen in Charm City soon at Pimlico elementary and middle schools.
Phipps is scheduled to speak about the Dream academy and perform a concert of spirituals on Sept. 26 at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. The performance will be preceded by an introduction by Dr. Ben Carson, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and will mark the beginning of the church’s 2010-2011 Tiffany series.
Named after the church’s collection of 11 original Tiffany stained glass windows, The Tiffany Series supports the church’s mission work in the Baltimore Community.
“It was my privilege and my honor to have been invited ,” Phipps said. “I’m really looking forward to it and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Wintley Phipps will appear at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church on Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.browndowntown.org.