"A Celebration of Cultural Arts"

by Mary Alice Brunner

February 2016 Program Notes

Date and location – Monday, February 1, 2016; 2:00 PM at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, 601 Main Street in St. Joseph.  The program is open to the public.

The February program will feature a Celebration of Cultural Arts including a vocal performance by the Wilsonians from the Second Baptist Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan; poetry reading by Monday Musical Club member Pearl Blaylock; and a piano concert by pianist, composer, and arrangerJean Prosper.

The Wilsonians sing monthly during services at Second Baptist Church in Benton Harbor. They have participated in many musicals for various churches throughout Benton Harbor, and most recently in a Fine Arts program entitled "Didn't David Dance?" The directors, Wilbur Scott and L.J. Joseph, have had a wealth of musical training. Wilbur and Maurice Scott sang in their college choirs and were part of presentations of Handel's Messiah, Brahms' Requiem, and Negro spirituals and anthems. L.J. Joseph is a great Gospel singer who has performed with Mahalia Jackson, the Barrett Sisters and Thomas Dorsey (the father of Gospel music). Wilbur Scott has taken classes in the Lucie Campbell Workshop of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education.  The Wilsonians will be accompanied by Modie McKee and will be performing “Swing Low,” “Say the Name,” “Precious Lord,” “Down By the Riverside,”  “Blessed Assurance,” and “Let It Be Real.”

 Pearl Blaylock began her studies and career in dramatic art at the age of 6. She gave numerous recitals in New York, Waterloo, Los Angeles and Chicago, and received the key to the city of Waterloo, Iowa, when she took her one-woman show to the University of Iowa. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Chicago State University and a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology from DePaul University in Chicago. She taught in the Chicago Public Schools for 12 years, the Harvey, IL schools for 2 years, and the St. Joseph Public Schools for 25 years. She has served on the boards of the Berrien County Association of Churches, the Twin Cities YWCA, the Blossomland United Way, and Church Women United. She started and continues to direct the Drama Club at Second Baptist Church as part of the church’s youth outreach program. She has devoted her life to family, education and the theater. She has one daughter, 4 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, all of whom reside in Benton Harbor.  Ms. Blaylock will read from selected poems.

Pianist, composer, and arranger Jean Prosperhas touredin cities across the United States and Canada. Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, after his familys immigration to Montreal, Canada, he received keyboard training and his music education at Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, in Montreal.  He also went to a private school, Kingsway College, in Oshawa, Ontario, where, as a choir member, he traveled across Canada and parts of the United States and performed major choral works twice a year with the Oshawa Symphony Orchestra. While studying in Oshawa, Jean won 1st prize at the Kiwanis Piano Competition.  Later, after moving to the United States, Jean studied piano at Andrews University and at Indiana University.  Although Jean’s main focus is jazz, he performs other genres of music spanning the classical to gospel repertoires. (Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Brahms and Beethoven are among his favorite composers.) He has performed for thousands on concert stages; in churches, parks, clubs, and peoples homes; and at restaurants, schools, wineries, arts centers, weddings, funerals, museums, and jazz festivals. In 1999, he garnered a prestigious Stellar Award nomination for his recording Getting Up Morning.  In May 2005, Jean Prosper founded a non-profit organization called The Jazz Exchange.  Its mission is to preserve jazz music as an art form by providing exposure and education to the youth and community as well as cultural exchange.  Mr. Prosper will perform selected songs.

Additional information regarding this program and Monday Musical Club can be found at our website, mmcmi.org