Meet The Team

choir

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ALEXA DIAZ

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem Credits: “Shakespeare in the Park,” “Apollo in the Hamptons.”

I’m 17 years old and I’m born and raised in Harlem USA. I joined Sing Harlem when I was 14. I’ve always enjoyed singing, but beforehand, my passion was dancing. Over the years, Sing Harlem and Mama Foundation has opened many different opportunities for me, it has been a privilege and unforgettable experience, and I am grateful to be involved with an organization that gives back to me in ways I never imagined!

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Cheriese Gissentanner

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem Credits: Alissa Cara at the Nickelodeon Halo Awards, Wonderama, Cipriani Ballroom, Carnegie Hall

 

I was born on April 8, 2000 in Brooklyn, NY. Ever since the day I was born I have always been around singers and songstresses. At the age of 7, it was discovered by my parents that I had a talent to sing, and so my parents made sure that I was implemented in my local church choir. Through the years, I have had a variety of vocal training along with professional lessons. At the age of 14, I auditioned for and was accepted to the award winning Mama Foundation of the Arts Gospel for Teens program in Harlem. The program has helped me develop not only as an individual, but as an artist in training. Mama Foundation and Sing Harlem are the reasons why I am able to step into any setting and be “ever-ready”. I have learned to always “seize the moment” and to always show love to other artists. Sing Harlem is such an amazing program, and I will always be grateful for my directors and those who have paved the way for me. 

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Dominique Coppin

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: Midsummer: A Shakespearience, Mama I Want to Sing, Power Book III: Raising Kanan - Season 1, Episode 9, and Amine - ‘Limbo’ album.

 

I have always had strong roots in music, with my father being a driving influence in my love for it as a groomed pianist himself. I began singing at home as early as I could speak, and I carried this love with me into my home church as I began to hone in on my talents. During my childhood years, I took my love for music and performance into many different platforms including my elementary school choir, Black Spectrum Theatre, and Staci Nicole’s World of Talent. In addition, I continued to study the piano for 7 years. Exhibiting a great interest in the performance world, I learned discipline on the stage at a young age. Throughout high school, I continued my vocal training at Joe’s Academy of Music and took my studies to the next level, auditioning with the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), scoring at 97%, 98% and 100%. After high school, I discovered the Mama Foundation and joined the Gospel for Teens program at the age of 19.  As of 2022, I continue to minister through music at the Cambria Heights Community Church and St. Albans Presbyterian Church, write/record self-produced projects, and expand on my musical journey at the Mama Foundation with Sing Harlem. 

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Johnique Edwards

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: Red Rooster (residency), Soho House (residency)

 

I am a 23-year-old theatre arts major from Harlem, New York.  Mt. Olive FBH Church is where I discovered my love for music. From as early as 3 years old, I remember watching the elders sing at church, inspiring me to sing for people and share my gift with the world. I sang at school assemblies, church services, and fashion shows from age 4 to 13. In fall 2012, I joined my high school’s choir, The Harlem Vocal Ensemble (VE), directed by Founder Darius Kennebrew. In the same season, I joined Mama Foundation's Gospel for Teens choir (GFT), founded by Mama Vy Higginsen. I was successful in becoming a part of two spaces that valued the gift of use in one's voice. During my beginning class at GFT, directed by Knoelle Higginsen and Elijah Lewis, I was motivated to sing proudly in front of others and was taught how to posture my heart, mind, and body before performing. I performed at my first GFT concert in December 2012 and became a graduate of GFT's beginner class. I traveled with VE, performing at venues such as Madison Square Garden and The United Nations, and singing for influential figures such as The Tuskegee Airmen and President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. Eventually I returned to the Mama Foundation, becoming a part of the GFT's Performing Before Live Audience class and the Sing Harlem Choir.

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Kemara Night

CHOIR MEMBER

As an author, multidisciplinary artist, and advocate for justice, I use "artivism" (art+activism) to heal and grow consciousness. A few notable moments include singing with Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway, performing and protesting at The Kennedy Center, and modeling for Callen-Lorde. My training is vast, garnering credentials with Urban Word NYC, Girl Be Heard, and more. A certified teaching artist and cycling mentor, I am also a music major at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I vow life is not worthy without the sharing of creation and I urge y'all to remember: #BlackMentalHealthMatters IG: KemaraNight

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Nova Bodo

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: BVG for SZA on Saturday Night Live, Moby on The Stephen Colbert Show, Afropunk 2019.

 

As a singer-songwriter, my refreshing music infuses smooth R&B vocals and pop elements into hip-hop, reggae, and innovative rhythms, creating my own unique sound. My upcoming EP is my steppingstone to solidifying my own lane in the music industry. Born and raised in a musical home in Brooklyn, NY, I grew up listening to singers like Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and Mariah Carey, and knew at an early age that music was my gift and passion to take on. I started doing local talent shows, performing in school and in church, and have performed on stages at Lincoln Center and Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater by the age of 16. I released two singles, “Lady of the Night” in 2019 and “Boss Up” in 2020 and have since been featured with other upcoming artists like Chimy, Mayborn, and OT9 Beno. My debut EP will release in 2022!

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Turner Messer

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: Saturday Night Live with SZA, The View, Raising Kanan.

Other past credits include: Theatre: As You Like It (The Public Theatre), The Hellbound Train N.O.W Festival (Pace University), Fury Like a Drag Queen Scorned: Sylvia Rivera a Stonewall Monologue (Pace University), Jesus Christ Superstar (Work Light Productions) and Ain't Too Proud (Work Light Productions)

 

I am a NYC based screenwriter, director, performer, and stylist, and am a recent graduate of Pace University's where I was a directing major in the International Performance Ensemble program with a minor in creative writing. Storytelling is my passion and being able to tell a story through multiple different mediums is nothing short of a blessing. I have been with Mama Foundation for nearly the past decade and couldn't be grateful for all the memories. Follow me: @wizard721

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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AMIL ALSTON

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem Credits: Soho House Residency, Whole Foods performance, Trader Joes performance, Ali Froney Center with Vanessa Williams, Wonderama, Harlem Week Festival.

 

I have been at the Mama Foundation since the spring of 2016. I grew up singing in church, kid, and teen choirs, so my knowledge of gospel music already runs deep. I got involved with Mama Foundation when my teen choir just so happen to take a trip to see We Are, and at the time, they were holding auditions for the Gospel for Teens spring semester. I was ever-ready before I even knew what ever-ready was and sung “This Little Light of Mine” for Mama Vy and Ms. Knoelle after the We Are performance. After that, I did my actual audition for Gospel for Teens  and successfully got into the program. Six years later, I have done amazing things at the foundation and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Damion TRISTAN

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem Credits: Gospel for Teens “Yes We Can” single (2012), Nate Butkus Show (2012), NYC Fashion Week - Moncler (2012), NYC Fashion Week  - Hood by Air (2014), Mama I Want to Sing - 35th Anniversary (2019), ‘Genesis’ Car Reveal at Hudson Yards (2019), Elaine Brown Spencer’s: Melodies of Deception - NYC appearance (2019), Elaine Brown Spencer’s: Old Skool - Canada (2020), Amine - Limbo album (2020), Braziil Montreux Jazz Festival (2020), Power Book III: Raising Kanan - Season 1, Episode 9 (2021), Midsummer: A Shakespearience - Off Broadway (2021), Moise Moranccy’s: War (2022), The Kelly Clarkson Show (2022), Red Rooster Harlem (residency), SoHo House (residency). 

 

 

I am a singer-songwriter and have been a member of the Mama Foundation for the Arts since 2009. With deep roots in the gospel genre, I also carry a soul and reggae flare. I began singing at a very early age. My family would say that my first stage was around his aunt’s center table, using her flowers as a microphone. By the age of 7, I began singing in the church choir and eventually became the church’s choir director and worship leader locally and within the broader organization. At the age of 12, while singing in church, I was offered an opportunity to record my first project with The Sound of Philadelphia, operated by a former member of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. I continue my journey through artistry, performing around New York City and making appearances as far as Canada, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom.  In 2021, after years of dedication and progression in Sing Harlem, I was promoted to the role of assistant director. 

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Hannah Accencio

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: Red Rooster (residency), Soho House (residency), Tommy Hilfiger X Zendaya fashion show, Ali Fourney Center’s Annual LGBTQ Youth’s Gala, Midsummer: A Shakespearience.

 

I am a high school senior from the Bronx, NY, who has been part of Sing Harlem for three years, being selected from my second semester of the Gospel for Teens program for my professionalism and commitment. An all-around performer, I got my start in singing in my church’s children’s choir at just three years old. I have held lead roles in local theater productions of In the Heights and West Side Story, have been part of an award-winning step team, and am a prolific song writer. By studying music business in college, I hope to become an artists and repertoire representative, finding and managing promising new artists for record labels and working from the inside to help the music industry become a more equitable, inclusive, and safe environment for women and all people of color.

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Kai Emani

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: BGV for Usher, Chance the Rapper, and Bebe Rexha.

 

I am an aspiring singer-songwriter and educator from Brooklyn, New York. I began singing at the age of 12 and invested in developing my voice through vocal coaching at 17 with Mama Foundation. My musical career started as an outlet to release my feelings, but then developed into much more than a hobby. Through songwriting and experience, I continue to find my sound in music.

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Khrya Cunningham

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: Soho House (residency), Harlem Week Festival, The Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon with Chance the Rapper, TyDolla $ign and Anthony Hamilton, and at Nate Berkus’ wedding.

 

I started at Mama Foundation of the Arts in spring 2013 at the age of 15 years old. I am a proud soprano vocalist and have been through all levels of the Gospel for Teens program. I have been a part of the Metro-Manhattan LINKS Scholar Program and Mama Foundation Summer Bootcamp series. I was also a part of the Mama Foundation Mentorship Program in 2015, which helped with applying to universities/colleges and submitting college essays. I had the opportunity to be in creative and intellectual spaces and have met Black leaders in the community. In May 2020, I graduated from University at Albany (SUNY), with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health with a minor in Communications. I am currently a Clinical Research Study Coordinator at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine located in the Bronx, NY. 

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

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Samantha Hernandez

CHOIR MEMBER

Sing Harlem credits: 2019 NYFW Tommy Now ft Zendaya, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Amine, and Raising Kanan (Season 2, episode 205). 

 

I have been a part of the Mama Foundation of the Arts for eight years, where I began at only 15 years old! I was born and raised in the church, worshipping and singing through music, which has helped shape me into the woman I am today. Gospel music, which is my favorite genre, is living and transforming lives from within, which is what makes it so special to me. Some of my favorite gospel influences are Israel Houghton, Kierra Sheard, and the great Whitney Houston. Taking that into Sing Harlem years later has helped me to see music in a different light where I was able to nurture, develop and strengthen my vocal capabilities on a professional level. Sing Harlem has helped to show me what I can achieve through artistry and creativity. Sing Harlem has also shown me that there is no such thing as dreaming too big and that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. 

A national and international stage performer, I serve as Artistic Director at the historic cultural arts institution Mama Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit located in central Harlem. In 2006, alongside my mother Vy Higginsen, I co-founded and created one of our largest arts education programs, Gospel for Teens. Gospel for Teens has served thousands of youths in its mission is to preserve the history and genre of gospel music as an art form. By using music as mentorship and development platform, GFT serves musical talent through training classes, and subsequently provides the opportunity to share these talents at a variety of professional stages, internships, and platforms. Students learn fundamental vocal and performance techniques as they build their self-confidence both on and off stage. 

 

As an outgrowth of the Gospel for Teens arts education program, I helped form the Sing Harlem Choir, a traveling commercial choir where advanced members of Gospel for Teens can elevate to performing on major platforms. I have booked, administered, musically arranged and choreographed dates for numerous appearances, including The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, RFK Human Rights Gala, and landing feature performances for the group with Madonna, Chance The Rapper, SZA, Usher, Pharrell, Ariana Grande and many more. 

 

As enthusiastic New York Harlem residents, myself and Mama Vy continue to serve our  community through teaching music and are passionate about passing the legacy and history of music to the next generations. 

MUSICIANS