I should have taken photos of course, but I was so rapt that I forgot to focus my iphone. The opening session of the National Association of Corporate Directors conference was rounded out tonight by a beautiful performance from the choir of Howard University–and very few directors could keep a dry eye.
The students, the men wearing tuxedos and the women dressed in black velvet and moire evening gowns. processed into the ballroom singing “We Love Howard University” and from their expressions it was clear that they did.
Reaching the front of the 750 capacity ballroom, they sang a specially arranged version of the spiritual I done done. You can see a previous choir from the university singing it at the White House on the link below. Our soloist Andrew Jenkins was every bit as wonderful as the young man featured here.
The choir closed with America the Beautiful and the director beside me (whose name I don’t know) got to his feet. The rest of the room followed: hundreds of board directors from brand name companies standing to honor not only their country but the talent of the teens and twenty year olds in front of them. The directors were mostly white, and over 60 and, as a general rule, people stand up when they come in the room. The students were all black and they fizzed with spirit, verve and talent as they sang the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics from Carmen Jones to the music of Bizet. In their crowd, there were as many women as men.
Around me, I watched tense jaws relax and faces soften into smiles. Quite apart from the beauty of the music and the talent of the singers, the choir leant us their youth tonight. Everyone loved them and we’ll all sleep a little better tonight with their music in our ears.