Breakout Session

From the Black Church to the Opera Stage: Transforming Students from the Gospel Belt to the Classical Sound

Saturday, June 23 • 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Presenter: Lori Celeste Hicks 
Introduced by: Shawn Roy
Location: Partagas

This interactive singing workshop addresses the common problems and issues encountered when training new vocal majors with no classical experience or background in a collegiate setting. This workshop traverses the challenges faced when dealing with student resistance and lack of experience, and offers unique exercises, specific learning strategies, and repertoire suggestions designed to meet the students where they are, and open up the reluctant pupil. Vocalises and exercises that use the skill of Marchesi, yet are based on gospel patterns will show audience members how to use popular riffs and motives to develop their own vocal exercises. A repertoire list will be provided of Spirituals and songs that help students make the connection from the music they’ve known, to the music they need to know, bridging the gap from the traditional gospel tunes to a more accepted canon of literature. Through video testimonials of student success stories, the audience members will be able to hear students speak on how they struggled initially, but ultimately overcame challenges and personal resistance to their classical development and changed their focus into what it is today. Recorded demonstrations will also show how a classically trained singer can use their technical ability to provide a healthy and balanced sound, and enhances the tone and agility in their gospel performance.

About Lori Celeste Hicks

Lori_Hicks_HS_Color.jpgLori Celeste Hicks is associate professor of voice and opera at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She has been engaged to perform recitals, concerts, and operas across the country and abroad as a classical soprano, composer, arranger, clinician, and director. Hicks has moved audiences with her warm voice and personality, as well as with her spiritual arrangements and soulful compositions. In 2014 she launched her Debut CD “Music of My Voice”, featuring spirituals and songs all composed and arranged by Dr. Hicks. Opera roles include Gershwin’s Bess, Humperdinck’s Witch, Puccini’s Mimi, Mozart’s Fiordiligi and Donna Elvira, Strauss’ Rosalinda, Menotti’s Laetitia, and Verdi’s Alice Ford. Other performing credits include Carnegie Hall in Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, and musical director for musicals such as Carmen Jones, Little Shop of Horrors, Dreamgirls and The Color Purple.