Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir Releases Debut Single
Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir has released their debut single, "Yes We Can," now available for download on iTunes. A video can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zn2oICBSN8&feature=youtu.be. The choir's debut album will soon be released on the new Harlem Records label.
Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir is a nationally recognized and award-winning ensemble that is currently featured in the Off-Broadway production of Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation (performed on Saturdays at The Dempsey Theater, located at 127 West 127th Street).
The subject of an Emmy Award-winning “60 Minutes” segment, Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir is comprised of talented young performers who have emerged from Gospel for Teens, a program of Ms. Higginsen’s Mama Foundation and her School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts, located in Harlem, which offers musical education and training to young people at no cost. The choir took the grand prize in their division at the 2011 Pathmark Gospel Choir Competition of Harlem (their very first competition) and then went on to another win at Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound Gospel Competition. They have recently performed at the prestigious TED Conference in Long Beach, CA; the Stellar Gospel Music Awards in Nashville, TN; and Moncler Grenoble’s winter show at New York Fashion Week. Gospel for Teen Choir’s other national TV appearances include performances on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” “The CBS Early Show,” and “The Nate Berkus Show.” The Gospel for Teens Choir has had the privilege to perform with such artists as Cissy Houston, Arsenio Hall, Clay Aiken, and Madonna.
Harlem Records was founded earlier this year by Vy Higginsen, an award winning producer and radio broadcaster, known as The First Lady of WBLS Radio in New York City. Higginsen established Harlem Records to help restore Harlem to its prominence as an entertainment Mecca in the world’s cultural centerpiece for the musical arts. Harlem Records premiere recording was the EP “Walk On By Faith,” from two-time Grammy Award-winning artist Cissy Houston.
Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation - currently celebrating the 30th Anniversary Season of the acclaimed gospel musical - is performed weekly on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. at The Dempsey Theatre, located in Harlem at 127 West 127th Street, between Lenox and 7th Avenues.
Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation, a revival of the 1983 musical, opened at The Dempsey in April 2011 and has been thrilling audiences ever since. Directed by Ken Wydro, Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation tells the story of a talented young girl who dreams of leaving her church choir to pursue a life in popular music, despite strong objections from her mother. A tribute to the many African-American artists with church choir roots who rose to fame in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, creator Vy Higginsen based her musical on the life of her sister, Doris Troy, whose 1963 hit "Just One Look" launched her to international fame.
The cast of Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation features the Gospel For Teens Choir's leaders Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson as Doris and Elijah Ahmad Lewis as the Minister of Music; as well other members from the choir in the ensemble. The cast also features Bettina Pennon as Mama, Sandra Huff as Sister Carrie, and Tyrone Flowers as Reverend Winters.
The original production of Mama, I Want to Sing, which opened on March 23, 1983 at Harlem's Heckscher Theater, played for eight years and over 2,500 performances in New York (1983-1991), becoming the longest-running African-American Off-Broadway musical in American history. Mama, I Want to Sing went on to play another 1,000 performances through a three-year tour across the USA; a run in London’s West End; several European tours (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia); multiple appearances in the Caribbean; and seven tours throughout Japan. Over the years such noted performers as Doris Troy, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Deniece Williams, Tisha Campbell, Octavia Lambertis, Desiree Coleman, D’Atra Hicks, Stacy Francis, Ben Vereen, and Ciara have appeared in stage and film versions of Mama, I Want to Sing.
Tickets for Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation are priced at: $20 (children 14 and under), $30 (teens, students and seniors – with valid ID), and $35 (adults) and are available through SmartTix.com (212-868-4444) or by calling the Mama Foundation for the Arts at 212-280-1045.
For more info, visit www.mamafoundation.org.
Pictured (top) Elijah Ahmad Lewis (side) Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson. Photo Credit: GN Miller.