Local Music
4:13 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Sojourner Truth Children's Choir sings its heart out

Pauline Norris directing the Sojourner Truth Choir at The Music Center in Battle Creek
Credit Nancy Camden

After school on Wednesdays, students stream through the doors at The Music Center in Battle Creek. Students aged seven and up head to the practice room for the Sojourner Truth Choir.

Beverly Channey promised her young cousin Nevaeh, who started singing at age two, that when she was seven years old she would join Sojourner Truth Choir, where she could ‘sing her heart out.’

The Sojourner Truth Choir is made up of students age seven and up. The children’s gospel choir is a part of The Music Center’s tuition-free program called Impact. The choir was founded on Sojourner Truth’s ideas of freedom, equality and faith.

“The instructor, she’s bringing out things that the kids don’t even know they have,” says Channey.

Director, Pauline Norris’ father was a pastor and she would direct the different choirs.

“It’s like a passion,” Norris says. “It’s in me.”

When Norris looks at the faces of the children in the choir she sees, ‘I love to sing. I want to sing. I want to get better.’

“And, so I try to accommodate that," she says. "I try to bring it out of them. I try to teach them all that I can to help them believe in themselves and to sound good.”

Twelve-year-old Destinny Todd has been in the choir since the second grade.

“I think we are learning a lot about stage presence and how to open our mouths more,” Todd says. “When I was in the second grade, I used to just sit there and I wouldn’t say anything and then she had me try out for different solos since I got older. It makes me feel better about singing in front of people ‘cause sometimes, I might be concerned about what people would think.”

“You can have a bad day when you walk in and feel good leaving because of what the songs are,” says Carolyn Ballard, the administrator for the choir.

The songs all have a positive message and are mostly gospel music.

“Miss Norris is just fantastic," says Ballard. "Wonderful director who brings out the best in our young people. She is very musically gifted herself. She’s a singer and has been a choir director for many, many years.”

Director Norris hopes that wherever they might sing, the choir can continue to be a ‘blessing’ to the community.

Hear the full Arts & More show for February 4, 2014