A VIRTUAL CELEBRATION:  The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts will recognize Black Opera Stars-sopranos Nicole Heaston, Karen Slack, baritone Kenneth Overton, tenor Lawrence Brownlee and Senator Melony Griffith on Saturday, September 11th.

by Patrick D. McCoy

Melody of Art, an annual Pre-Congressional Black Caucus Season Kick-Off Reception this year will be live-streamed virtually​ on Facebook and YouTube Live. Lovers of the arts are invited to join the festivities from the privacy of their home, while toasting luminaries with a homemade Operatini (CAAPA’s signature cocktail-recipe provided upon request), witnessing beautiful visual artwork by Dallas artist Frank Frazier and others, listening to the sounds of the CAAPA Jazz Ensemble, led by Ronald A. Walton and featuring soprano Ayanna Freelon and student flutist Laila Sermon.

Saturday’s free virtual event will honor Black opera stars Nicole Heaston, Karen Slack, Kenneth Overton, Lawrence Brownlee and local official Senator Melony Griffith.  Additionally, the non-profit arts organization will recognize Denee Barr as the CAAPA Volunteer of the Year and Samyra Jenkins as the CAAPA Student of the Year. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all four artists garnered new audiences by creatively engaging their fan bases in the realm of virtual presentations. These virtual forums gave viewers the opportunity to ‘interact’ with these personalities on a level that may not have happened pre-COVID. For these reasons, these leaders are being recognized by CAAPA because of their shared efforts and mission in helping support Black Classical Musicians, youth, and others in the performing arts by “Bringing Color to the Classics!®”

“These are difficult times for everyone, but CAAPA is excited to have amazing partners and musicians join us for the 2021-2022 season” declared CAAPA Co-Founder Pamela T. Simonson. “We have high standards for all our performances throughout the year and adding virtual programs including the Vir-cital Series, OPERAations, and the virtual MasterClass Series to our live performances, is an opportunity for CAAPA to help bring color to the classics to a broader audience.”

The virtual reception is free to attend. Tax free contributions to The CAAPA Cause may be made on the organization’s website www.4caapa.org during the program or at any time.


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 Board Member of the Music Critics Association of North America, a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, a former 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 is an adjunct instructor of music at Virginia State University. Visit http://patrickdmccoy.com. Follow him on twitter @PatrickDMcCoy, IG: PDM06. and subscribe to “Across the Arts.”