God of Our Weary Years:  From legends, professionals and rising artists, soprano Nicole Heaston assembled outstanding black concert and opera singers in this moving rendition of Roland Carter’s arrangement of Lift Every Voice and Sing” just in time for the celebration of Juneteenth.

by Patrick D. McCoy

(Soprano Nicole Heaston brought together her talented cadre of opera friends for this special tribute).

The current pandemic with COVID-19 and social distancing has certainly been a challenge.  But it also has provided opportunities to connect in ways that we would have never considered.  Who would have imagined that we would witness virtual choirs and performances via social media!  Just in time for the celebration and commemoration of Juneteenth, the acclaimed opera soprano Nicole Heaston put out the clarion call to some of the world’s greatest black opera singers to render “Lift Every Voice and Sing” arranged by Roland Carter.

(Distinguished composer Dr. Roland Carter)

Participants include George Shirley, Marietta Simpson, Angela Brown, Lawrence Brownlee, J’Nai Bridges, Justin Austin, Robert Sims, Aundi Marie Moore, Kenneth Kellogg, Morris Robinson, Leah Hawkins, Indra Thomas, Kevin Short, Latonia Moore, Gordon Hawkins, Patrice Eaton, Marsha Thompson, Samantha McElhaney, Donnie Ray Albert, Tiffany Renee Jackson and Laquita Mitchell, among numerous others.  See the video for the full credits of participants.  The special virtual performance was conducted by multi-genre artist  Damien Sneed and pianist Kevin Miller.



Written by James Weldon Johnson, it was first performed by 500 school children to celebrate the birthday of President Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, FL. The poem was set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song.

Watch this powerful rendition:


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://patrickdmccoy.com