Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys Feel the Power of Music Choir Providing Upbeat Alternative

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys Feel the Power of Music Choir Providing Upbeat Alternative

Article excerpt

When Lorenzo Whitehead started a boys choir at Cathedral of Faith last August, some of his recruits came in with unholy attitudes.

They were using curse words, getting into fights and hanging around with a rowdy crowd.

Whitehead's goal was to turn their behavior around. A year later, he has succeeded.

On a recent rainy Wednesday night, about 30 youth were in the church's choir loft at 2591 W. Beaver St., voices raised in praise to God.

They were rehearsing for their first appreciation banquet at 4 p.m. Saturday with Charles Spencer, president of the International Longshoreman's Association Local 1408, as guest speaker and Ken Amaro, a reporter with WTLV TV-12, as emcee.

"We want to praise them for not participating in anything negative," Whitehead said. "They haven't been in the clubs smoking or drinking."

Whitehead and his wife, Lisa, formed the choir at the request of their pastor, Bishop C.D. Kinsey. They started with about 40 boys. Now there are 66, ages 5 to 18. They come from the Westside, Northside, downtown and Arlington. Some live in drug-infested, high-crime areas; others in middle-class neighborhoods.

"They see a lot of family abuse, violence and drug use, and we try to show them the opposite of that," said Whitehead, case manager for The Bridge's teen pregnancy prevention program at Ribault Middle's full-service school.

"Now some of them know how to turn away from it because they have gained more power in God."

Several choir members said it helped keep them from getting into fights and gave them the skills they needed to deal with peer pressure.

"Because of the areas some live in, they look forward to a Wednesday night rehearsal," Lisa Whitehead said. "If they have things that are bothering them and can hold out until Wednesday, they can sing their frustrations away."

Some are brought to rehearsal by cousins, uncles and neighbors; others by parents who attend Cathedral of Faith and are in Bible study while rehearsals are going on.

Last week, Whitehead exhorted them to stretch the notes and synchronize their harmony as they sang Jesus Wants to Take You Just a Little Higher and In Your Will . …

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