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Glee Club Celebrates Centennial With Elegant L.A. Concert; College’s New Leadership Initiative Awarded $125,000 Grant

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

(Los Angeles, Feb. 26, 2011) – With stirring spirituals and standards, the Morehouse College Glee Club thrilled a Los Angeles crowd during a Glee Club’s 100th Anniversary Celebration Concert at the sold-out Nokia Theater.

The event was hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Morehouse Alumni Association, the Association Los Angeles Morehouse Parents and Los Angeles County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“What a fitting culmination,” Ridley-Thomas said at the event. “This is Los Angeles County’s premiere Black History Month event.”

The Glee Club holds its rightful place in the annals of black history, having performed in its 100 years before presidents, international audiences and marking notable historical events such as 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and the funeral of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ’48.

In 1911, Kemper Harreld was recruited to start the Glee Club. Since then, only two other men – Wendell P. Whalum ’52 and David E. Morrow ’80 – have directed the renowned group, which has performed all over the world.

“I am so grateful to Kemper Harreld, Wendell Whalum and David Morrow for providing first-class leadership for an extraordinary group of young men,” said President Robert M. Franklin ’75.

Receiving several standing ovations, the Glee Club performed songs such as “Zion’s Walls,” “Train’s-a-Comin” and “Betelehemu.” Acclaimed violinist Karen Briggs joined the group for “Make Them Hear You (from Ragtime).”

The elegant evening provided news as Robert Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, presented a $125,000 check for the College’s new Morehouse College Presidential Initiative on Empowering Leadership in Local Communities (ELLC).

The ELLC is a multi-faceted effort designed to influence policy and leadership development practice for minority boys and young men the world over.

Special recognition was also paid to Valerie Ervin, president of The Ray Charles Foundation. Ervin helped turn into reality Ray Charles’ vision of creating a legacy to music and education with the building of The Ray Charles Performing Arts Center. The $20-million facility is the state-of-the-art home to the College’s Music Department, Glee Club and the Emma and Joe Adams Concert Hall.

“Ray Charles was able to leave an indelible mark on many lives and provide a platform and venue for many more men to explore their talents and creativity, for many more generations of Morehouse Men to come,” Ervin said.

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