SPECIAL GUESTS

Harlem Gospel Choir

Performing contemporary gospel with a touch of jazz and blues, The World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir is synonymous with power vocals, glorious sound and infectious energy. For over two decades they have been America’s premier gospel choir and have toured the globe thrilling audiences with the inspirational power of black gospel music.

Deeply rooted in the history of the African-American slave trade, black gospel music can be traced back to the 1700s when African slaves brought their unique African musical heritage to America and combined it with their new faith – Christianity. Out of the hardship and the trials of slavery, this unique musical tradition came to be, and forever changed music as we know it. Blues, Soul, and Rock-and-Roll…they all have origins in black gospel music. Harlem Gospel Choir presents modern gospel classics as performed in the black churches of Harlem today.

Harlem Gospel Choir have performed alongside superstars such as Bono, Diana Ross, The Gorillaz, Andre Rieu, Damon Albarn, Pharrell Williams and most recently with JamieXX, Raury, KBS Korean Traditional Music Orchestra and Lang Lang, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Sia, Yolanda Adams, The 1975, Ibeyi, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge and at the 2018 Grammy Award Show with Sam Smith. They have performed for three Presidents (President Obama, President Carter and President Nelson Mandela), two Popes (Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI), Ban Ki-Moon, and the UN General Assembly. They have recorded with Keith Richards, The Chieftains, and Trace Adkins among others.

Harlem Gospel Choir embodies the spirit of American Gospel. Every concert is infectiously enthusiastic; a roller coaster ride of singing and dancing; a gospel celebration! The Choir’s rich harmonies & dynamic sound are “UNFETTERED & JOYOUS”. Their harmonious songs of love and hope and inspiration will touch the depths of your soul, lift your spirit, and take your breath away!

John Christopher Jones

John Christopher Jones made his Broadway debut (1977) in Simon Gray’s Otherwise Engaged directed by Harold Pinter. Also on Broadway, Hurlyburly, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, A Month in the Country, The Suicide, London Assurance, Democracy, The Goodbye Girl, Tom Sawyer, Absurd Person Singular, Heartbreak House, and Jose Quintero’s great revival of The Iceman Cometh starring Jason Robards.

Other New York highlights include Nathan the Wise, Quartermaine’s Terms, Aristocrats, Prin, The Day Room, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Fuddy Meers, Sight Unseen, Golden Child, Don Juan, Engaged, The Forest, and The Seagull. A founding member of Shakespeare & Company, Mr. Jones has performed Troilus, Antipholus of Ephesus, Hal, Proteus, Mercutio, MacBeth, Cloten, Lavatch, Gravedigger, Grumio, Elbow, and Porter.

In television he was a regular on three short-lived series; and films include Moonstruck, Awakenings, Desperate Hours, The Hurricane, The Village, and Substance of Fire. Mr. Jones was an Associate Director of the Depot Theatre in upstate New York. He has adapted for the stage Shaw’s novel, An Unsocial Socialist. His translation of The Cherry Orchard won him the Lucille Lortel Award for a production at the Classic Stage Company.

David Ushery

One of the region’s most respected and accomplished television journalists, David Ushery is the anchor for NBC 4 New York’s 4 PM and 11 PM weekday newscasts. He is a member of the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame and a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York Chapter’s Silver Circle, recognizing more than 25 years of journalistic excellence and service to the Tri-State.

Ushery’s anchoring and reporting was a key component of NBC 4 New York’s award-winning COVID-19 coverage, honored in January, 2021 with the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for “creat(ing) a 360 view in real time of the coronavirus pandemic, with courageous and thorough reporting on the virus’s explosion in New York City.” The duPont has long been recognized as the broadcast, documentary and on-line equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, also awarded by Columbia University.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the periods of civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, Ushery was
a daily presence in WNBC’s 30 Rock studios, delivering the latest information to viewers while frequently transitioning
to daily press conferences hosted by federal, state and local officials. He also took a closer look at the relationships
between law enforcement and communities of color during this time, which included exclusive interviews with top NYPD brass. Following the recent death of Civil Rights icon John Lewis, Ushery secured an exclusive interview with long-time friend and former Congressional colleague Charles Rangel,who described marching alongside Lewis from Selma, AL toMontgomery, AL and offered personal insights on their shared
work that spanned more than half a century.

For nearly two decades, Ushery has offered WNBC viewers a front row seat to the biggest news stories of the day. He has
shared in two National Edward R. Murrow Awards presented to the station for coverage of Superstorm Sandy—as well
as for the deadly 2019 police shootout in Jersey City. He has also travelled around the world to report live from site of terror attacks in Paris and Manchester, England, the front lines in Gaza and the West Bank and the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. Further, Ushery has made multiple visits to St. Peter’s Square in Rome where he covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the 2013 papal conclave electing Pope Francis and the canonizations of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Saint John XXIII.

Passionate about service and helping those in need, Ushery has brought attention to the sacrifice and unique challenges
facing local first responders. He has investigated the high rates of suicide among firefighters and placed an important
spotlight on the emotional struggles faced throughout their lifetimes. He won a New York Emmy® for his 2019 profile on 9/11 responder Michael Dorian, who was diagnosed with cancer following his service and later fought a challenging
battle to secure the health benefits due to him under the law.

Later that year, he conducted one of the last televised interviews with the late NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez, who
helped lead the grassroots campaign which resulted in renewal of the federal Victim’s Compensation Fund.
In recent years, Ushery also reported from Houston following the death of former President George H.W. Bush, from Orlando following the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting and the White House for the transition between the outgoing Obama and incoming Trump teams. He covered Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to Washington D.C. and New York City live from the parade routes. Ushery also delivered live coverage following the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and the miraculous 2009 landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. He joined the station in 2003 following a decade at WABC-TV, where he rose from reporter to anchor.

Ushery is the recipient of three honorary degrees, earning honors from St. John’s University (2014), St. Francis College (2018) and Fordham University (2019). He is actively involved with both the New York Urban League and the Archdiocese of New York, and received numerous awards for community service, including from the Nubian Cultural Center, Consulate of Israel and Public Relations Society of America. He has received the McDonald’s Black Media Legends: Faces of Black History Award and the National Association of Black Journalists Award for his series of reports on children and violence. Ushery has also been named “40 under 40” from Network Journal and Black Professionals Business Magazine.

A Hartford-area native, Ushery graduated from the University of Connecticut and began his broadcast career at WFSBTV, where he worked as the lead evening reporter. He also reported for the Hartford Courant and the Los Angeles Times. Ushery was 11 years old when he was selected from a search to host the Connecticut edition of “Kidsworld”, a nationally syndicated television show which he hosted until the age of 18. One of his first interviews was with news icon Walter Cronkite, who was considered one of the most trusted persons in America at the time. Ushery lives in New York with his wife and son.

Rebecca Young

Rebecca Young joined the New York Philharmonic in 1986 as its youngest member. In 1991 she won the position of Associate Principal Viola. Two months later she was named principal viola of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After spending the 1992–93 season in Boston and two summers at Tanglewood, she ultimately decided to return to her family in New York, resuming her Associate Principal position with the Philharmonic in September 1994. She can also be seen leading the viola section of the All-Star Orchestra, a popular televised educational series about classical music.

Ms. Young was first introduced to music at the age of two when her parents took her to the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts led by Leonard Bernstein. Today, she is the host of the Philharmonic’s popular Very Young Peoples Concerts, a series of intimate chamber music concerts where she tap-dances, plays drums, rides a scooter around the stage, and even sings Gilbert & Sullivan. Her philosophy is less to educate than, as she puts it, “to make the audiences have so much fun they want to come back!”

An avid chamber musician, Ms. Young has performed with many renowned groups, including the Boston Chamber Music Society, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, New York Philharmonic Ensembles, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She can be heard in the iconic recording of Schubert’s Trout Quintet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Pamela Frank, and bass player Edgar Meyer on the Sony Classical label.

Ms. Young has traveled worldwide with the New York Philharmonic, including a once-in-a-lifetime trip to North Korea, in 2008. In non-Covid times, she travels annually with the orchestra to Shanghai, where she teaches as well as performs. Highlights of her travels include Singapore, Vietnam, Russia, Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil. The orchestra also performs often throughout Europe.

Most recently, Ms. Young has become known as the “Viola Mom” on TikTok (ry_violamom). On this platform, she introduces non-musicians and musicians alike to the joys of music. Using humor and her generous and talented colleagues, she reaches out to her audiences and proves, once and for all, that classical music does NOT have to be stuffy and boring!

Ms. Young is a graduate of The Juilliard School. She joined the faculty of Rutgers University in September.

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