The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band is proud to present a new arrangement of Lift Every Voice And Sing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and in celebration of Black History Month. We are honored to have worked with soloists Heather Hill, Denisha Ballew, Phumzile Sojola, and Roosevelt Credit.
Originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson, and set to music by John Rosamond Johnson, the piece has been arranged for symphonic band and vocalists by our Music Director Henco Espag and member Blair Eisenhart.
The song is an anthem of affirmation and liberation, and now more than ever do we need to show and promote solidarity, acceptance, love, and pride. We echo Representative Jim Clyburn’s call to make Lift Every Voice And Sing a National Hymn, on par with the National Anthem. With this symphonic band and virtuosic solo vocals arrangement, and in a time of so many virtual performances, we share this recording with our hope to truly lift every voice and sing.
Heather Hill, Soprano
Heather Hill's career encompasses work in opera, concert stage, Broadway, TV, and film. In October of 2020 Heather performed the role of June Johnson in Is This America?, a workshop of a new opera about civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer by Chandler Carter and Diana Solomon Glover. This performance, presented by Santa Fe Opera, was the first live opera performance in New York City following the COVID-19 shutdown. Prior to this, she was in the midst of a world premiere production of the new musical Other World at Bucks County Playhouse. She recently finished a four year run performing as Carlotta and the Innkeeper's Wife in the Broadway company of The Phantom of the Opera. Heather joined Phantom after completing a historical run as Lily/Serena understudy in the 2012 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess. In 2017 Heather sang the role of Miss Frayne in the NYC premiere of Carlisle Floyd's newest opera Prince of PlayersGloria by Robert Harris in Lincoln Center, Carmina Burana, Haydn's "Lord Nelson" Mass at Carnegie Hall, and Handel's Messiah with the Bach Society of Central Florida and the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, as well as concert engagements with the Missouri Symphony and Las Cruces Symphony, among others. She has performed on the operatic stage with many companies including Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Caramoor Summer Festival, and the New York City Opera. Heather can be heard on the 2012 Broadway cast album of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. She is also a featured soloist in the 2011 Lincoln Center live recording of Knickerbocker Holiday with the Collegiate Chorale, available on Sh-K-Boom Records. She can also be seen in commercials and popular television shows. Outside of performing, Heather runs a Colorado-based restaurant business with her sister. Heather is the recipient of honors and awards from numerous arts organizations including the Colorado Allied Arts Award, the Liederkranz Foundation, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Denver Lyric Opera Guild, and the Connecticut Opera Guild, and was an Astral Career Grant recipient. She holds a Master's degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, a B.S. degree in Biology from Clark Atlanta University, and studied acting at the T. Schreiber Studio in New York and the National Theater Conservatory in Denver. www.heatherhill.com, @msheatherhill
Denisha Ballew, Mezzo Soprano
Denisha recently made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the opening season production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess as a featured soloist in the Glorious Ensemble and covered the role of Annie, under the baton of Maestro David Robertson. In 2019 Ms. Ballew was honored to perform in Toronto, Canada with Harlem Opera Theater in a Symposium entitled "Black Opera: Uncovering Music History," honoring the legendary Jessye Norman. Denisha made her Lincoln Center debut at Avery Fisher Hall as a soloist in concert with the National Chorale and American spiritual ensemble. The young soprano has also performed title roles in contemporary operas Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom by Nkieru Okoye and The Opera of Marie Laveau by Akua Dixon. Denisha was invited to perform at the Columbia University Luncheon honoring Black Women all over North America entitled, "Women Transforming Our World!" There she graced the stage amongst many politicians, journalists and prolific female powerhouses across the globe performing her favorite spiritual, arranged by Jacqueline B. Hairston, "Guide My Feet." In addition to opera, Denisha enjoys navigating other genres including musical theatre and gospel. She was a featured soloist in The New York City Center Encores production of Cabin in the Sky directed by Rubin-Santiago Hudson. She received rave reviews from the LA Times for her role as Serena in the first national tour of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, directed by Tony award winner Diane Paulus. Other performances include: First Lady in Mozart's The Magic Flute (Nashville Opera), Eliza in the premiere of River of Time (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Truth, An American Opera About Sojourner Truth, written by Paula Kimper (Opera America), La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, and Lady Billows in Albert Herring. Ms. Ballew has also sung in the annual concert series with Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performing Gershwin classics and sacred pieces by Rossini. Denisha attended The University of Kentucky for her Bachelor's in Music Performance. For her Master's she attended The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a proud native of Kentucky but currently resides in the metropolitan area of NY/NJ.
Phumzile Sojola, Tenor
Phumzile most recently toured for four years as Ubaldo Piangi with The Phantom of the Opera. Born and raised in South Africa, Phumzile Sojola made his Broadway debut as Peter in the Tony Award-winning Porgy and Bess and followed that as Lord Pinkelton in the original cast of Cinderella. On the operatic stage he has performed Herisson in Chabrier's L'étoile and Popo in Troubled Island with New York City Opera. His other roles are Rodolfo in La Bohème, Leader in Lost in the Stars, Remendado in Carmen, and Monostatos in The Magic Flute. From 2007 to 2017 he was one the Tenors who sang in the show 3 Mo' Tenors on tour and Off Broadway in NY. Phumzile also performed in Jason Moran's Work Songs at the 2015 Venice Biennale with Jason Moran.
Roosevelt Credit, Bass
Roosevelt André Credit's profound and spirited performances have served to shape his career both nationally and internationally as a bass/baritone. Roosevelt was featured as Fisherman in the 2012 Tony Award-winning and Grammy-nominated production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess on Broadway. He has performed on and Off Broadway, playing several roles in the Tony Award-winning and national touring companies of Harold Prince's Show Boat. He has received the 2012 Most Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award from Oregon State University, and was featured vocally in the Oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave. His extensive repertoire includes opera, oratorio, jazz, spirituals, pop, and musicals. He has performed with the Chicago Opera Theater, Birmingham Opera, New York Contemporary Opera, and Chautauqua Opera, and was a featured soloist with Jazz at Lincoln Center's Duke Ellington Orchestra during the Centennial Celebration. Roosevelt was featured in Live from Lincoln Center's PBS Broadcast production of Show Boat, and made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Schubert conducted by the late Maestro Robert Bass. Roosevelt was a conductor of the Chicago Children's Choir and currently serves as Music Director for I.S.M.I.L.E Carolers of New York. He is the founder of the Lappelle Choir, which performs many concerts with him and is featured on his CD "Get on Board." He has published an anthology of spirituals titled Ol' Time Religion as well as being the author of various choral octavos. He has also guest conducted for many choral festivals across the country. Some of his original music can be heard in the movie short Big Little Sis by Jody Prusan. His operatic roles include Neborský in Dvořàk's Dimitrij, Henry in The White House Cantata, Dr. Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, St. Eustace in Four Saints in Three Acts, Jim in Porgy and Bess, and Figaro in Le Nozze de Figaro. His world premieres and recordings include Elegies For the Fallen by Joyce Solomon Moorman; For The People by John W. Jones; Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music by Joshua Rosenblum; Robert Greenleaf's Under the Arbor, telecast by PBS; and most recently Is This America by Chandler Carter and Diana Solomon-Glover with the Santa Fe Opera. Roosevelt Credit holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Oregon State University, a Master of Music in Voice and Opera Performance, and a Master of Music in Conducting from Northwestern University. He is also an Eagle Scout from Troop 254 of the Golden Acorn District. For more information please visit www.rooseveltcredit.com or his official YouTube channel.