I Have Joined The Dessoff Choirs: A New Chapter in Musical and Social Integrity 

After a thoughtful journey exploring new musical horizons, I am thrilled to announce my new association with The Dessoff Choirs. This decision comes after a dedicated search for a choral group that not only challenges me musically but also upholds values of social integrity and inclusivity.

My time with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus (NYCGMC) was marked by significant personal and professional growth. However, recent events highlighted a misalignment with my core values, especially concerning issues of racial justice and organizational culture. My experiences there, while foundational, led me to seek an environment that prioritizes musical excellence and aligns more closely with my personal ethos.

The Dessoff Choirs, under the inspiring leadership of Malcolm J. Merriweather, represents the convergence of my aspirations as a musician and an advocate for social change. Malcolm’s commitment to presenting works by Black composers and addressing subjects that resonate deeply with me has been profoundly impactful. His direction not only showcases the choir’s musical prowess but also reflects a conscious effort to engage with critical social issues.

What sets The Dessoff Choirs apart is its professional approach to music-making. The first rehearsal, following a long holiday break, was a testament to this. We were immediately immersed in sight singing excerpts in small quartets, an exercise that not only showcased our individual skills but also highlighted the group's collective talent and dedication. This level of professionalism is further emphasized by the organization's policy of reauditioning, ensuring that the choir maintains its high standards.

This fresh start with The Dessoff Choirs feels like a significant step towards fulfilling my musical ambitions in a setting that respects and nurtures diversity and excellence. Unlike my experience with NYCGMC, where the focus often veered away from musicality to social dynamics, Dessoff prioritizes artistic quality. This shift is refreshing and aligns more with my view of what a choir should embody - a place where music takes precedence, and members are united in their pursuit of choral excellence.

I am excited to contribute to Dessoff’s rich legacy and to sing alongside talented individuals who share a passion for choral music and a commitment to creating an inclusive and respectful community. This new chapter promises not only musical growth but also the chance to be part of a group that truly resonates with my values and aspirations.

An Open Letter to Mother Emanuel AME Church

To the Congregation of Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC,

I am writing to you today as a fellow member of the Black community and a fellow believer in the power and significance of the Black church in our society. It is with a heavy heart and a sense of profound disappointment that I address the recent events that transpired during President Joe Biden's visit to Mother Emanuel AMEC.

The interruption of President Biden's speech by protestors, voicing their anguish over the U.S. government's funding of military actions in Israel, was a critical moment. These actions have reportedly led to the loss of thousands of lives, an issue that resonates deeply with our shared history of pain and struggle. However, what deeply troubled me was not the protest but the response it elicited within your sanctuary.

The chant of "four more years" by members of your congregation, aimed at drowning out the voices of the protestors, was disheartening. This act, in my view, contradicts the very ethos of what our community and our church stand for. The Black church has always been a beacon of hope and a sanctuary for the oppressed. It has been a place where voices, even those of dissent, are heard and acknowledged, not silenced.

I understand the respect and support for a sitting president, but our commitment to justice and empathy should not be overshadowed by political allegiances. Our history as Black people, and as a globally marginalized community, should make us more attuned to the sufferings of others, not less. The act of silencing those protestors, in my opinion, was not just a disservice to the principles of our faith and heritage, but also a tacit endorsement of the actions that they were protesting against.

This incident paints a concerning picture of how political performance and pandering have overshadowed the core values of empathy, justice, and solidarity in our community. It is disheartening to see one of our congregations, a symbol of strength and unity for Black Americans, being swayed by political gestures rather than standing firm on the principles that have guided us through centuries of struggle.

As a member of the Black church at large, I urge you to reflect on this incident. We must not allow our spaces, sacred for their history of resistance and resilience, to become stages for political theater that contradicts our collective pursuit of justice and equality.

In conclusion, I implore the congregation of Mother Emanuel AME Church to consider the implications of our actions and inactions. Let us not forget the sacrifices of those who came before us, and let us honor their legacy by remaining true to the principles of justice, empathy, and solidarity.