Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Problems In The Choir Stand

The Boys Choir of Harlem has performed for years across the globe using their extensive repertoire full of Negro spirituals, hymns, gospel music, jazz, classical interpretations and hundreds of scores from African-American composers and arrangers ranging from Moses Hogan and William Dawson. Unfortunately, the famed choir has run into a sour note or an abandoned piano out of tune. The choir is facing eviction from the New York Public School system where it has for years rehearsed for free and often provide instruction to over 500 talented boys ranging from grades 4-12. The dilemma surfaces after a major slump of expenses have been covered; tabulating a serious amount reaching debts up to $5 million. In January 2005, the Boys Choir sought $705,000 from the Department of Education to cover some of their financial problems. The department has never granted any monies to the Boys Choir of Harlem since it is a non-profit institution and basically leans off of donations and monies collected from extensive touring for its day-to-day operations. Still, the department refused to grant their request.

But the choir also faces some more grey areas of controversy. According to Michael Best, an attorney from the Department of Education, the choir failed in finding a new executive director to replace the founder Walter Turnbull. who was demoted that year to artistic director after an investigation concluded he did not act on reports that an employee hired by Turnbull sexually abused a student. Because of this dark cloud of confusion, it is possible that the department refused to grant their proposal for funds to help out with their outrageous debt. Alot has transpired since that accident, which includes many layoffs of staff employees due to the lack of funds to pay for their salaries

Donations from hip-hop moguls Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and The Game have been collected to help their financial problems but apparently it wasn't enough. The choir's last day at their current location of services will be January 31, 2006. Mr. Turnbull cites that he is hopeful that they will probably find a new place to rehearse in the near future.

Message boards across the Internet are crying on the hands and mercy of hip-hop and R&B superstars to aid them, even Oprah. But can we also call on gospel artists such as Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee, Hezekiah Walker or Mary Mary to help out as well. The Boys Choir of Harlem has aided hundreds of young men to college and empowered their destinies. Yes, the group faces much controversy (and who can ignore the sexual misconduct issue), but if this institution desires to come out of the red, they must have a green light to help them; which proves that it certainly takes a village to raise a child.


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