Coppin presents its Gospel Choir, then its president

University's Dr. Battle will sing on Oct. 3

Stage: Theater, Music, Dance

September 16, 2004|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,SUN STAFF

Most university presidents don't have a singing voice sweet enough to pack an auditorium.

Dr. Stanley Battle, the president of Coppin State University, hopes that he's the exception.

The university's Presidential Concert Series kicks off Sunday with a performance by the University Gospel Choir and will be followed on Oct. 3 by Battle, performing with his brother Stewart and Kevin Carr in a show dubbed "Two Brothers Plus One." Washington's Heritage Signature Chorale performs on Nov. 21.

The proceeds from the concert series benefit the Presidential Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to Coppin State students.

"It's a wonderful opportunity [for me] to step out of this position and do something that I really enjoy doing and raise money," said Battle, who sings baritone.

Battle is no stranger to the stage. At his mother's insistence, he began singing at the age of 5 with his identical twin brother, Stewart, who sings bass. Later, he sang at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, with the late William Warfield and the Heritage Chorale.

The Battle brothers, baritone Carr and pianist Audrey McCallum will perform 15 songs. Battle expects the show, which will be held in the university's James Weldon Johnson Auditorium at 4 p.m., to last about an hour and 10 minutes.

The selections include "Go Down Moses," "It Ain't Necessarily So" and Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father." Battle's father passed away when he landed the job as president of Coppin University, and Battle sees "Dance With My Father" as a tribute to his father and the fathers of other Coppin families.

Battle said he's banking on curiosity to fill seats; he hopes that the idea of the university's president belting out tunes on stage will lure both students and the general public to the show.

"We're trying to bring as much as we can to the community," Battle said. "I look forward to it."

But with Battle's anticipation also comes a bit of nervousness. His job demands a large portion of his time and has kept him from performing regularly.

"I always get anxious - I'm not gonna lie - before a performance, but I've done a lot of things, my brother can bring it, and Kevin - he's no slouch. ... I like to think we're gonna bring earth, wind and fire."

The Coppin State University Gospel Choir performs at 4 p.m. Sunday in the James Weldon Johnson Auditorium at 2500 W. North Ave. "Two Brothers Plus One" will be held at 4 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Johnson Auditorium. The Heritage Signature Chorale performs at 4 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Johnson Auditorium. Tickets to each event are $20 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and $10 for students and children. Call 410-951-3034 for more information.

For more theater, classical music and dance events, see Page 39.

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