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Black Voices of Inspiration (BVOI)

The Purdue Black Voices of Inspiration (BVOI) is an exceptional choir dedicated to the performance of Sacred Anthemic Hymns by Black composers. Since 1975, the BVOI has developed into a versatile choral -ensemble. Their repertoire consists of traditional Negro Spirituals, contemporary Gospel Music, and popular songs of inspiration. The Black Voices of Inspiration is an ideal attraction for church and civic events. They have performed throughout Indiana and its neighboring states. The choir has participated in exchange programs with Hampton Institute, Indiana State University, University of Louisville and University of Illinois-Urbana. The spirit of The Black Voices of Inspiration will fill you with sweeping emotion.

Established in the fall of 1975, the BVOI is sponsored by the Purdue University Black Cultural Center, which is committed to the performance of the music of African Americans. The primary objectives of the choir are to promote African American culture through the medium of music in various genres. Their repertoire includes traditional Negro spirituals, traditional and contemperary gospel music and pop-soul ballads. The choir is diverse with a roster ranging from freshmen to graduate students representing various academic disciplines at Purdue University. By reinforcing a positive sense of cultural identity and self worth, the choir provides an outlet for spiritual and educational fulfillment for its members.

Since it's inception in 1975, the BVOI have become the most widely respected gospel choir in the area. The choir has won several awards of excellence and toured extensively throughout the state of Indiana, visiting other university campuses, metropolitan churches, civic organizations and elementary schools. The BVOI serves as goodwill ambassadors for Purdue University at many university and community events.

The rich and forceful sound of the BVOI and along with their inspiring interpretations of spirituals often move audiences to tears of joy. BVOI's music builds bridges by bringing people of different religious and political convictions together to revel in the beauty of gospels and to appreciate the warm spirit of the music. The choir concentrates on presenting the music of African American composers such as William Dawson, Jester Hariston, Thomas Dorsey and James Cleveland in its performances. Also, notable artists such as William Warfield and Mattie Moss Clark have performed with this powerful choir.

The newly acquired fall, 2004 - spring, 2005 artist in residence, Twana A. Harris, Indianapolis, will be responsible for conducting weekly master choral classes and preparing the ensemble for performance engagements. She will assist ensemble participants in gaining an understanding and appreciation for the African-American experience through music. "We are very pleased that such a talented, experienced and energetic artist and director has accepted this position," said Renee Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center. "Her vitality and vision, combined with the talented students under her direction, will make a musical partnership that will benefit all who come to listen." Harris has served as director of choirs at Arlington High School in Indianapolis for the past three years, conducting three ensembles. The Arlington choir recently released a CD entitled "Just the Beginning" that was written, played and performed by Harris and the student choir. She earned a bachelor's degree in music education at Lincoln University and is pursuing a graduate degree at Christian Theological Seminary. In addition to teaching, her professional experience includes 15 years as a composer and arranger. She also has directed gospel choirs for the church and community, teaches piano and voice, and has experience in studio recording. Harris is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators Association. She is a recipient of the Vocal Extravaganza in Black Solo Award, an honor received in a competition among black university choirs and soloists.

The Purdue BVOI is sponsored by the Black Cultural Center. They are available for concert appearances for schools, churches and civic organizations. A performance fee is required to cover expenses. Persons interested in engaging the BVOI are encouraged to confirm arrangements at least three months in advance. As a reminder, the BVOI is available in October, November, February and March.

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