The Richmond Boys Choir will observe its 20th year with a three-day celebration on Father’s Day weekend. Choir director Craig Matthews has events planned for current members on Friday and Saturday, culminating with a Sunday evening performance that’s open to the public.
Alumni have been invited to participate, and are set to perform with current members for Sunday’s event. Matthews says the choir is building its audience, and the last event garnered more than 200 spectators.
The group had its beginnings as the South Richmond Boys Choir at Franklin Military Academy, and formally organized as the Richmond Boys choir in 1996. Matthews hopes to stay true to the original integrity of the project. “After 20 years, it still has life in it,” he says. “If [the original intent of the choir] is still working, then don’t change it.”
Friday will begin with a gathering between former and current members to get acquainted, followed by a brief rehearsal for Sunday’s performance. Saturday, Matthews is hosting what he calls a “pilot program” for the boys and their parents, which includes male empowerment seminars with guests from local court systems and law enforcement, as well as health care professionals.
Matthews holds to the idea that familiarizing the choir with these community members, as well as giving them love, affection and structure, will help stop potential missteps before they happen.
This guidance has evidently resulted in success for many of the organization’s former members, including Rayvon Owen, who made it into the Top 4 on American Idol’s 14th season and recently released his single “Can’t Fight It.” The choir’s assistant artistic director, Joseph Wimbush, is also an alumnus, and has been involved with the organization since he was 9, with a break from 2007 to 2011 when he studied music production at Randolph Macon College.
“I want to provide the boys the opportunity … to expand their scope, and subsequently, it’s fun to see different things about life through their eyes,” says Wimbush.
The choir practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Matthews says he’s “pleased with the growth and the sound” the boys have produced so far.
The finale will be held at the Richmond Christian Center at 6 p.m., with support from the City of Richmond and the Carpenter Foundation. $15 ($5 for children 10 and younger). 214 Cowardin Ave. 322-5022 or richmondboyschoir.org.