Portrait of a Queen Concert: CSO + JCSU


The week of events kicked off with a joint concert titled “Portrait of a Queen,” featuring the JCSU Concert Choir, JCSU Drumline and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. This year was the second consecutive year of this partnership. More than 400 tickets were issued for this event, held inside the Jack S. Brayboy Gymnasium, April 2, 2024.

The concert emerged after Dr. Valerie Kinloch received a special appointment within the orchestra’s leadership.

“I just got elected to the Symphony’s board, and so to have them on campus at JCSU performing with the Johnson C. Smith University Concert Choir, that’s beautiful,” said Kinloch.

The Johnson C. Smith Concert Choir performed under the direction of Dr. Shawn-Allyce White, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities with piano accompaniment provided by Frank Williams ’71. The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra performed under the direction of Christopher James Lees, Resident Conductor.

Dr. White reflected on the experience:

“Performing with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra was an exhilarating experience for the JCSU Concert and Alumni Choir members and me. This wonderful opportunity for our choir students will always be cherished and remembered as a result of Experiential Learning. Kudos to Alumni Choir members for their visibility and support.”

The Symphony and the Choir played in combined and alternating patterns of performance. The Charlotte Symphony commenced the evening with Overture to La forza del destino by Giuseppe Verdi.  The JCSU Concert Choir joined in with a rendition of Walk Together, Children by William H. Smith.

The concert featured nine selections, including the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the JCSU Loyalty Song.  The title performance, “Portrait of a Queen,” was performed with great gusto.  It is an overture that chronicles the journey of black people from Africa to America.  In the CSO + JCSU Concert Choir event, Dr. Shawn-Allyce White played the oratorical part of the Queen, a strong and eloquent black woman, who undergoes a conversion from an African Queen to an enslaved woman on an American plantation.  The performance was powerful in Dr. White’s emotional elocution and in the stirring crescendos and decrescendos performed by the symphony.

The evening was punctuated by a thunderous performance delivered by the JCSU Drumline.  The drummers carried the rhapsody from center court through the mezzanine of the gym to the outdoor plaza where they were greeted by a gaggle of enthusiastic concert-goers.