Hymns and Spirituals Songs:

This Saturday at 5 PM, soprano Simone Z. Paulwell will present a special sacred recital at Metropolitan Baptist Church.

by Patrick D. McCoy

Many of our great singers of the opera and concert stage get their early beginnings singing the sacred songs of the church.  This Saturday, soprano Simone Z. Paulwell who is particularly admired by audiences in our Nation’s Capital will similarly return to that special repertoire that informs her performances:  the music of hymns and spirituals.

We caught up with the soprano, surprisingly in the middle of folding her own concert programs!

PDM:  What inspired you to present a recital solely of hymns and spirituals?


(Simone Z. Paulwell, soprano)

Simone Z. Paulwell:  This will actually be my second time presenting this recital.   A lot of the members at my church have been asking me for quite some time to do a concert at our church. Even though I am an opera singer, I have to remember my roots in music and they began in the church. What better way to honor them than with an hour filled with sacred music!

PDM:  Of all the hymns and spirituals that you are performing, which one would you say is the most meaningful?

SZP:  The most meaningful Hymn presented will be “Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass.” My brother and good friend Ramón Bryant Braxton wrote and arrangement of this specifically for me. I hold it very dear to my heart!

PDM:  Professionally, what’s ahead for you in term of performances in the area?

SZP:   I will be making my Kennedy Center debut performing in the premiere of Tazewell Thompson’s “Blue” in March then about a month later I will return to the Kennedy Center on the Opera House Stage to sing the role of “Serena” in Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”.



Saturday, January 25, 2019 at 5 PM

Metropolitan Baptist Church

1200 Mercantile Lane

Largo, MD 20774

A Recital of Spirituals and Hymns presented by soprano Simone Z. Paulwell

With pianists Brandon Felder, James Glover and special guest Ramon Bryant Braxton




A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory.  Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including The Washington Post, Early Music America Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and Examiner.com.  He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, a member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD and serves on the music faculty of Virginia State University where he teaches applied voice, music appreciation and assist with the University Concert Choir. Visit http://www.patrickdmccoy.com

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