Renowned conductor Dr. Jeffery Redding has quite a resume. What's missing on that resume, is that he quit music altogether about 20 years ago to be computer scientist. After realizing that this was an error, he immediately set up a meeting with Dr. Augustus Pearson Jr., Director of Choral Activities at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University [FAMU].
During that meeting, Redding was hoping that Dr. Pearson would allow him back into the undergraduate music program, and maybe return a portion of the scholarship he was previously awarded. Dr. Pearson looked at Redding and said, "I never took your scholarship away, because I knew you were coming back. There is talent in you that YOU haven't realized yet."
When I asked Jeffery why he quit music, he said, "Dr. Pearson replaced one of my favorite professors, and brought a different energy to the table. I just wasn't a huge fan of him at the time."
Redding and Dr. Pearson developed a beautiful relationship over the next four years. Pearson even appointed Jeffery as student conductor of the FAMU Concert Choir during his senior year at the school. Unfortunately, right before the FAMU Concert Choir's scheduled performance at the Florida Music Educators Association conference, Dr. Pearson suddenly grew ill. Pearson called Redding to his hospital room and said, "Jeffery, I can't make the trip. You have to lead this choir. You are prepared for this and I know you will represent me and FAMU beautifully."
Redding recalls that moment as one of the most terrifying of his life. With less than two weeks to prepare, Jeffery and a few of his colleagues stepped up and lead the choir in performance at the conference. When I asked Jeffery about that experience, he said, "It was that moment, conducting the FAMU Concert Choir, when I realized what Dr. Pearson saw in me when I left music."
Over twenty years later, Dr. Redding's choirs from West Orange High School and West Virginia University have performed at 13 state, regional, and national American Choral Director Association conventions.
To hear the complete story in this week's episode of Sing To Inspire, click the audio player above.
#SingToInspire Performance of the Week
I Thank You God - Gwyneth Walker
West Orange High School, Bel Canto Women's Choir
Dr. Jeffery Redding, conductor
Edward Rothmel, piano
#SingToInspire Picture of the Week