The Bennie L. Williams Spiritual Voices (Spiritual Voices) is organized for charitable, educational, and cultural purposes, to preserve and perform primarily African American spirituals and related choral arrangements, and provide supportive educational materials. The mission is to perform the Negro Spirituals with their message of hope, wisdom and courage. By sharing these sacred songs, we honor the wisdom of the ancestors and create a beloved community whose impact has been felt worldwide.
The Spiritual Voices currently has a roster of 3 directors, an accompanist, and approximately 45 singers who meet weekly to learn new music, rehearse for performances, and educate themselves in the importance of this music. The Spiritual Voices perform two major performances each year in which new music is introduced to its audiences that average 300 attendees.
Our directors continually seek to present concerts at different venues around the Denver Metro area and collaborate with other choral groups, including other non-profits and children’s choral programs, to present programs that appeal to all ages. Our fall program will honor Ms. Williams’ eighty fifth birthday. Spiritual Voices will be partnering with First Universalist Church and their music director, Mr. John Hubert, who is a former co-director of TSP with Ms. Williams.
In addition to our fall and spring concerts, several smaller performances are slated for the 2017-18 season including Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church. Requests for performances are considered by the directors on a case by case basis, but average 2 to 3 a season.
In addition to performing in the Denver Metro Area, the Spiritual Voices has traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on two separate occasions to participate in the Heritage Festival of Negro Spirituals. In 2014, the Voices was the “Special Guest Choir” at the Heritage Festival. During the 2015 trip, the Voices performed the very first choral concert at the restored Antioch Baptist Church on the grounds of the Whitney Plantation, a museum on the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish outside of New Orleans. The museum is dedicated to the lives of enslaved people. The museum pays homage to people who worked as slaves on the plantation itself, as well as those enslaved in Louisiana and elsewhere in the United States. Both the choir and the audience shared an emotionally evocative experience of reviving songs that were likely sung at the spot two hundred years earlier. The choir hopes to continue its association with the Whitney Plantation by performing at the plantation in February 2018 to support the efforts to educate the public about the truths of slavery.
In June 2016, the Voices organized and hosted the Denver’s first national spirituals festival, the Rocky Mountain Spirituals Festival. Choirs included The Heritage Chorale from Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Ambassadors Concert Choir from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; The United Voices of Detroit, Detroit, Michigan; The Ebony Chorale, West Palm Beach, Florida; the Celebration Multicultural Ensemble, Colorado Springs, Colorado; and First Universalist Church Choir, Denver, Colorado, joined the Spiritual Voices in presenting spirituals to a crowd of 750 attendees. With these concerts, a mailing list of over 600, and social media contacts and choir ambassadors, the choir directly touches in excess of 2,000 people each year.