S: Westminster Jubilee Singers
BC: Created by Lisa Komonchak-Galvin 1996-2000 Jubilee Member
FC: Westminster Jubilee Singers
1: This book is dedicated to the vision, perseverance and faithfulness of Professor J. Donald Dumpson and the Westminster Jubilee Singers. Faith, family and joy will always keep us together. "The best is yet to come..." -Prof. Donald Dumpson
2: The beginning....
3: In 1992 a choir was formed on WCC campus by students LaTishia LaNier, Terrance Savage-el, Mary-ann Santiago, and Judith Letemps. The choir was named “Partakers of a Divine Nature”. The music was composed of original pieces created by LaTishia and Terrance. The choir began to gain notoriety by performing for local churches and local college events in the Princeton/Lawrenceville area. Because of its students being from WCC, many announcers of this choir began to attach “Westminster” to the name of the choir. The news began to spread across WCC campus. Then it leaked into the church music department at WCC that this choir singing gospel and worship songs, was using Westminster Choir College name. Though it was not the intention of the founders of this choir it became controversial on WCC campus. Steve Pilkington (head of Church music department) met with LaTishia who was the initiator of the choir and inquired about the choir’s popularity and its’ name attachment. Everything was explained clearly as unintentional but the group felt as though it was being attacked. Soon the members began to be disinterested in continuing the choir. Later LaTishia began to ask upper class men about their experiences regarding the attempts to pursue a course that would introduce African American composers and choral music. The thought was” how can you have a church music department and not have African Americans represented somewhere as having contributed to church music”. Then the fight began. LaTishia began to setup petitions and then she would sit and make suggestions in student forums. Those forums and her meetings with Evelyn Thomas and Steve Pilkington soon added a great vision to Westminster choir college campus. At first it was just an idea then in spring of 1993, Steve Pilkington walked across the quad where he met with LaTishia and said “we have a candidate who may be perfect for the class you want”. Later she met Donald Dumpson. She was the first student to meet him. He seemed sharp and well learned in the area she hoped for. She also found him as challenging but necessary for the success of the choir/course. The students who would find interest began to put their stamp of approval on the decision to have the course and to have the new professor Donald Dumpson join the campus. Therefore in 1994 Donald Dumpson began to form Jubilee, which was named after the Fisk Jubilee Singers. LaTishia LaNier-Mckinnie | The inception of Jubilee
4: back in the day...
5: "Put it on Jubilee, put it on!"
6: The legacy of Jubilee lives on with new generations...
8: 10 Year reunion and concert...
9: Dinner at On the Border
11: Jubilee and Sweet Honey in the Rock NJPAC 2006
12: Salisha and Helen, you made this all happen! | Jubilee 15 year reunion and concert
13: I have learned more in my years as a member of Jubilee than in any other music classroom. This is all due to having encountered a great teacher and musician, Professor J. Donald Dumpson. As a student under the leadership of Donald Dumpson I learned more than I thought I would at the time. Donald’s inspiration came from a place not common with most teachers. The reason he is so memorable is because he put time into his students and deposited seeds in them that will last a life time. These seeds were to never settle for less, always achieve and aim for higher levels musically, also most importantly, to stand in the midst of adversity and not be afraid to be challenged. I remember being taught to become the music you sing about, make it come from the inside and show the passion of what you do through your facial and body expressions. The technique of placing oneself in a slave-ship is one of my most memorable class experiences that I will never forget. Thanks to God first, and Donald Dumpson for who I have become, both as a musician and as a professional. I realize that his essence of teaching comes out of me on a daily basis as I continue to teach those who will never experience a class from Donald. But, because he taught with integrity and wisdom it helps us to continue the legacy of his great music teaching methods. Thanks Donald, what a great teacher and mentor. GOD and You are the reason Jubilee will last on WCC campus. LaTishia LaNier-Mckinnie Founding Member
14: Evelyn Thomas ~always there to lend an ear~
15: 15 years of Jubilee gathered for one purpose...
16: Sing Jubilee!! Sing! | Rehearsal...
18: The Performance
20: I remember rolling on the floor in the playhouse moaning and groaning and laughing, while hearing Mr. Dumpson yelling get into the moment stop laughing feel the sway of the boat hear the moans smell the acrid scent. And here I am a freshmen thinking what the heck am I doing and how is this going to HELP!!! Oh what a young mind doe's not know befuddles me now. It helped me without me realizing it totally at the time how to connect with my emotions, and to bring that to the stage whether with jubilee, Chapel choir, Symphonic, or Solo. to Bring your audience with you on that journey of emotional highs and lows. I recall doing the War memorial concert and I am on stage ready to sing Motherless Child and Cecilia Burt is doing her big passionate dialogue and she comes towards me as I see her coming I say what the heck is she doing, and boom I am grabbed up in her arms, and my head is planted smack dab into her Breast's. Boy was I caught off guard by that one, but it's all about that emotional connection. Oh what wonderful memories and for that I say Thank you Mr. Dumpson, Thank you. Jonathan Gonzalez | I never truly experienced music until I became a part of Jubilee. Whatever race, age, sex you were...nothing mattered. We were all there to do one thing: MAKE MUSIC. The passion that you bring to Jubilee is instilled in all the performers as well and the audience and everyone is touched by the Jubilee experience. I ended up transfering from Westminter to Rutgers and you welcomed me back to Jubilee always. EVERY ONE OF US matters to you. I will never be able to repay the gift that you have given to me...the sheer gift of music. When everything is going wrong, you can always come to Jubilee and know you are safe. You are home. That is how I feel and no other professor put half the amount of passion into any subject that you did in the short time you had with us once a week. You have a gift for teaching...for awakening ones’ senses and soul. For creating. For inspiring. I'm so blessed to have found you and want you to know that the impact you have had on my life will be with me forever. - Sarah Pettorsson | My favorite memory of Prof. Dumpson was his speeches of ministering the pieces and yourself. I never understood this until our concert in Mercer county library. It changed my life seeing everyone happy and influence my entire career to go into Music Therapy. I feel he came into my life through God to help me go on a bigger better path. I am blessed to be a part of this. - Karina Rozo
21: "Be On It” One of the many things I learned as a pupil of Prof. Dumpson is to be “on it” or “ready” to sing, whenever I am asked. He didn’t treat us like students, he treated us like budding young professionals. In the music business, if an opportunity strikes, OFTEN with no notice, you cannot respond with needing to warm up first, or checking with your teacher to see if they think it’s good, or even practicing. I got a gig singing all over Europe as a soloist for several months. When I was called by the musical director, I asked for a date to set-up an audition. He asked me to sing right then! At first, I panicked for about 5 seconds. But then, I stood up in my family room, put the phone on the floor, and sang Amazing Grace (by request). He was beyond impressed and I was hired on the spot. I owe the guts that I had to even go for it and not make excuses or have the wrong mindset that it was “unfair” to be put on the spot. I saw it as the opportunity to grab that job, because as Prof. Dumpson said, “If you don’t, trust me, someone else will.” So thank you Prof. Dumpson! I do not know if you were ever fully appreciated for the genius of your tutelage on that campus. God bless, Janine Dunlap Momasso | One of my fondest memories of Donald and Jubilee may seem odd to many at first but it is something that has shaped my art and artistry more profoundly than any other experience while at Westminster and well beyond. It was the afternoon of one of our concerts and we were rehearsing the solos for that performance. On that day I was supposed to be singing half of "motherless child" w/ Laquita. For whatever reason I just could not "bring it", I mean I was singing so flat I might have been in a different key! We tried again and again and finally Donald turned to me and said "I'm sorry Joe but I can't let you go on stage and sing it like that - It's just not there today." I was heart-broken at first and frustrated w/ myself, but I understood that his standards were high for a reason: He wanted the best for Jubilee & FOR US as artists and he was teaching us exactly what the business of professional performing was about. He knew he was preparing us not just for a concert at WCC but, for some of us, a lifelong career as a performer. That memory of being held to a higher standard, a level of quality, a musical preparedness and the utmost in giving of oneself over to the music and the audience I have carried with me throughout my life as a professional artist. It is my fondest memory because on that day I became a better artist, musician, singer and performer and for that I will forever be grateful and in debt to Donald and the lessons he taught me! -Joe Lodato
22: My fondest memory was an exercise that we did in Jubilee singers the first year it started. Mr. Dumpson told us all to get close and sit on the floor. We had to picture being squeezed in on a slave boat. At the time I had a long day, I was tired and was just not feeling any exercises except go to my room and sleep in bed.... I played along with a non chalant attitude and was not getting with the program for a good 5 minutes. I closed my eyes and Mr. Dumpson described women and children pilled on top of each other unable to breath. Like they were not even human beings. I started crying to think of the struggle they went through. He told us to open our mouths and let the screams and tears and pain come out of our mouths. I moaned in pain and cried for my life and made music that I have never thought was in me. Mr. Dumpson is a man and teacher of integrity and passion for the things he believes in. God broke the mold when he made him. Love Tamiko Jones | Dear Donald: I want you to know how much I appreciated your allowing me to audition for and then to join Jubilee. As a retired educator new to the Princeton area this became a turning point for me. You may recall that I was so inspired by the experience that I began taking voice lessons and within a year was giving annual vocal concerts in the Princeton and New York Metropolitan areas as benefits for charitable organizations. I have recently moved to Sarasota, Florida and plan to continue my concerts here. Please accept my thanks and my best wishes for your continuing success as you chart new paths. Joan Waite | The impact that Donald Dumpson has had on my life could never just be described in a small paragraph. To say of him that he is blessed is a truism of magnanamous proportions. Rarely do you come across someone in your life that inspires you to achieve and then walks with you to help you obtain that which you seek. Never have I had a teacher and mentor care enough and emote enough to invite me in to his spririt and soul and demand of me my best while fostering all that he knew that I could be. This man is an inspiration and most importantly has taught me a large part about what it is to be a person of dignity and honor in all that I do. He inspired me beyond the classroom, he has inspired my life and in his lessons I carry on in many of the messages and lessons that I introduce to my children. This is my greatest compliment to him as well as the greatest gift that he has bestowed upon me. I cherish my relationship with him and pray daily for his continued efforts in his quest for excellence, yet still have the ability to remain humble in realizing that he, as all of us are not a finished product. Mr. Dumpson, I thank you for being wonderfully you and human. All My Love Always, Daria | I remember Prof. Dumpson was always so professional and strived for nothing but perfection at all times at every rehearsal. Also, I admired him for showing me and giving me the experience to advance my ability as a singer while at WCC...Thanks Prof. Dumpson, You are the Best! Best Wishes! Felicia A. Farley
23: Dearest Donald! The journey has been one that we will have fond memories of for years to come. All I can say is "THANK YOU" for every moment that you have been there for me. For every word of encouragement, for every good conversation, for every single singing opportunity and for the collaborations that really changed our lives together and separately. I bless you. In Jubilee I learned so much about your level of excellence and the way that you do it, while keeping all engaged. I still live by the words you spoke to me in Savannah that kept me singing till the end, until we were victorious hands down. I think of how you were there to help me in different times of distress and supported me through the song, that was the life at the time, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See". You were there for so much, I am proud to be your colleague and friend. I know you know your future is as bright as the promises of God. No matter where you are or what you do in your future you can count on my support. I pray yours will be a journey of discovery and blessings. You deserve it. May your heart never stop sharing the best of who you are. Press on now, to the mark of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus. Your legacy here will live on through the education you will leave behind living, and working in all who know you. Love and Best Wishes! Deborah Ford | Since I was a sophomore in high school I always knew I wanted to be a music teacher, and that I wanted to get my degree from Westminster Choir College. Although Westminster was everything I hoped it could be, upon my arrival as a freshman, I felt like a fish out of water. Everyone seemed to know so much more than me about EVERYTHING! Everyone seemed to be studying classical music since they were in grammar school, where as I never had a voice lesson and sang in a Jazz choir in high school. I wasn’t sure if I would make it through the Westminster program. A former Jubilee member helped me schedule my classes and he signed me up for Jubilee before I could even ask what it was. He assured me that with a background in jazz, it would be perfect for me. John Paul Velez was so right; because from the day I stepped into L4/5 my life began to change. | Professor Dumpson showed me a world of music that I had never explored. His knowledge and passion for the African American Diaspora inspired me to explore my history as an American, and question why I never learned these things in high school. I researched contemporary Gospel artists and fell in love with each song that I uncovered. Dumpson opened my eyes to a new world of sound and my mind to a history that had been overlooked by former educators. I find myself saying Dumpson’s exact words to my students and sharing music with them that I never knew existed before I came to Jubilee. Professor Dumpson shaped me as a leader, giving me opportunity after opportunity to grow and explore all of my interests. Dumpson has this incredible gift to know what makes each of his students special and he is not afraid to bring those qualities to the surface. Dumpson’s unconditional support and encouragement he showed me allowed me to become a strong woman. He taught me so much about myself as a musician, Christian, and as an educator. I will forever be in debt to this man, and I intend to pay him back, by paying it forward to the future generations of our great Nation. Helen Vassallo
24: WOW! where to begin? Mr. Dumpson has impacted my life in such a powerful way!! I will never forget the day that he came to my high school in 1995!!! that day I knew what school I was going to attend. I have taken so much of what I learned about focus and freedom in singing/performance in my teaching and singing life! I am sure he is responsible for so much of my success!! I have had many vocal teachers, throughout my life, but Mr. Dumpson helped me to maintain my natural god given gift while blending technique and powerful intention! Thank you Mr. Dumpson for reminding us to "SHIMMER" and call it what you want but as far as I am concerned he taught us all how to sing under the ANOINTING! I Love and appreciate you more than words can express. If I were not on the HAIR tour I would be there!! Malik Young | I’m finding it impossible to adequately express my respect, affection, and a ppreciation for Mr. J. Donald Dumpson. My words are too stilted for such a soul. When I joined Jubilee Singers in Fall 1995, I was a Rider student, thrilled about the opportunity to sing with what I understood to be a “Gospel choir” –and at Westminster Choir College! It was already a dream come true. I picked up my books and music (and Mr. Dumpson, I’d just like to say that I actually did those assigned readings and journal entries) and found my way to the Playhouse. The class was immediately engrossing and satisfying, and I was simply fascinated by Mr. Dumpson. His stature is not imposing, yet his presence filled and overflowed the room. In the months that followed, I would begin to understand the reason. At first glance, Mr. Dumpson is a musician par excellence: a pianist who plays as naturally, as skillfully, as powerfully as an orator speaks; a director who arranges pieces for his group seemingly on the spot, identifying problems and tweaking phrases until the result is seamless, with or without sheet music, directing with one hand and tearing up the piano with the other. On second look, I saw Mr. Dumpson as a deeply passionate man with an emotional range to match his keyboard. He is a man of God, a man of faith, hope, and love. Sacred music is worship for him, but his passion lends a sense of the sacred even to more secular or historic pieces. It took time for me to perceive that Mr. Dumpson doesn’t just feel the music; Mr. Dumpson is the music. His music is so real because he is real. He is the physical manifestation of the music in his soul, a music that, while rooted in his own considerable experience, embraces a multitude of times and places, and eternity itself. | I cannot separate my memories of Jubilee Singers from my memories of Mr. Dumpson. They are one and the same. I am grateful for the two years I was able to sing with Jubilee, grateful for the joy and tears this music brought, grateful for the academic and cultural lessons that accompanied it. Mr. Dumpson, you called us your heart, and you gave us your all, every Monday night. We can never thank you enough. --Denise C. Pettek Nahigian | Dumpson, You have truly put your stamp on my life. You have provided me with tough skin to deal with whatever may come my way and to fight until I persevere. Still to this day, I sing "This Day." It is a beautiful song that I will always link back to you. I pray that we will be able to come together again to make music, fellowship, and worship. May the Lord continue to shine and shower His blessings on you as you shower your talents on those around you. -Christina Dennis
25: Mr. Dumpson for weeks tried to get me to learn this song Dere's a Man Goin Roun takin names. I must admit I wasn't feeling it at first but I tried and tried it and it would come out ok..... Just ok. It wasn't until a run-out we had in Pennsylvania and during the rehearsal we tried the song again and again it was just ok. I remember thinking, "why does he want me to sing this song so badly". After the ok rehearsal he took me outside to his car and pulled out his CD player to let me hear a recording of the song and went back inside with the others. We never got a chance to go over the song again before the concert so I figured Dumpson would wait until next time to do this song. I wish! When I heard him play the intro to Dere's a man I could have fainted! I said to myself, "Now?! And then he gave me THE LOOK! We all have seen the look, that says both "c'mon you can do it and "you better not mess this song up girl! Be on it! And that I did. Thank you Mr. Dumpson for not giving up on me and seeing in me what I couldn't see in myself. You are a true gem! Kimberly J Harley Harley | Jubilee is something that is unexplainable to someone that’s never been in the presence of it. There is a camaraderie and a spirit that I’ve found only lives amongst this group of musicians, led by this man. My time spent with the Westminster Jubilee Singers is some of my fondest memories of being at Westminster. In fact, I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like without it. The challenges and lessons that Professor Dumpson set forth for us were difficult, but worth every minute we spent achieving them. I’ve found in this group of talented individuals, a true family bonded together by our music and our experiences we shared. It had been ten years since I’d been back to Westminster but in 2010 Jubilee brought me back when they announced a 15 year reunion. When we began to sing it was like we'd never left Westminster. The spirit and music that filled that hall was a testament to the strength, joy and love that this group of people and this teacher can create together. I’m so very grateful that in my first week of school my freshman year, my roommate DeVasha said to me ...“you need to go to Jubilee.” I had no idea what it was about but I went and loved every minute of it. From that night forward Jubilee was an essential part of my life. I took Jubilee every semester for four years. I went from being the scared little new kid in the front row, to being a regular soloist in our concerts. At the time, I felt privileged to be accepted into this family, now I feel honored to have been a part of it's legacy. Professor Dumpson has a force, a spirit that moves you in directions you never thought possible. Donald, I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors. God bless those whose lives you touch next for they will forever be changed. Professor Dumpson, please never underestimate the impact you’ve had on our lives and our music. We are forever changed, forever grateful. -Lisa Komonchak-Galvin a.k.a. "little lisa" | "I can remember my freshman year in Jubilee where Mr. Dumpson encouraged me to find my voice. I had a solo part for our concert in Kansas City and I was very nervous. My uncle Charles was able to see it and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Without Jubiliee, I would have missed out on a very important education of one of America's most important musical spiritual heritages. I was also able to share an experience with my family I might have never been able to share without the benefits of our touring at Westminster." -Glaceia Henderson Hopkins
26: I knew that education is truly the pathway to many avenues but never in a million years did I expect that by joining a newly formed ensemble at Westminster Choir College in 1994 would lead me to eventually sing on the Grandest Operatic Stages of the World! The vision of Jubilee came from you Mr. Dumpson and because of that vision you challenged me and so many others to be true, honest musicians and performers. From the age of 18 you have been a constant positive figure in my life. I admire your incredible work ethic, your tireless generosity, and your heartfelt guidance. How can a music professor leave such a lasting effect on his or her students? Well, You always emphasized the importance of "Being on it"! And that very phrase continues to be apart of my performance life till this day. Showing up, being present, Excellence, being able to convey the sentiments of the composer as well as using your emotions to convey a message, Giving! Mr. Dumpson, you've taught me so much. And as you move on to another exciting chapter in your life, remember all of the people you have touched with your artistry and spirit in the last 16yrs. I'm proud to say that I am one. With Heartfelt Gratitude, Laquita Mitchell '99' | Favorite Memory: When Donald made us imagine we were in the slave ship together. We were all tight and close to each other just as if we were on a slave ship and then out of nowhere you hear "POOT"...Someone had passed gas...And Donald being Donald turned to us and said "Use the scent to go with the slave ship experience" I nearly wet myself from laughing so hard...It was a true slave ship experience....Thank You Donald....I love you...Salisha | Donald, I don't know if you will ever know how much you have impacted my life. I have had the privilege of not only knowing you as a professor but as my boss, mentor and friend. I thank you so much for the opportunities that you gave me while working for you in Philadelphia. Those years will always be some of the best years of my life. During that time, you taught me how to step out of my shell and to be super confident! Thank you for that. You believed in me when I did not even believe in myself and you helped me become the BEST me that I could be. Thank you for always being REAL and telling it like it is....Especially when I did not want to hear it! I will never forget how you surprised me on my birthday and the little things you would do just because. I've seen you not only be kind and good to me but to others including family, friends and at times your enemies. You are an amazing person Donald...UNIQUE, ONE OF A KIND, and I want to say THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART AND WISH YOU THE BEST FOR THE FUTURE...PS I WILL ALWAYS BE IN YOUR LIFE SO DON'T THINK YOU WILL EVER GET RID OF ME :) | I remember many things but the most significant is when I was in my second year and ready to leave school to pursue a career in R&B and your advice to me was to stay in school until I signed an actual deal. This was very impacting on me because it was one of the primary reasons I stayed in school and graduated. Later we talked about the fact that many people who did not go to school but went on to seek the industry, may have gotten further along there but would not have the tools I was working on. As a result I have seen the balance of my life as an educated, producer, songwriter, singer and I look forward to the many opportunities awaiting me. I also must say that just listening and watching your piano skills rubbed off on me tremendously and I have a certain feel for the piano that I got from hearing your chords and arrangements. As a teacher I am always projecting many of the things you shared with us about performing onto my students and to the groups and soloists I work with. Even the exposure you allowed me to have from premiering the William Grant-Still piece to playing on the Jubilee concerts and your advice to me as a teacher, I am still benefiting from. All around it has been a pleasure working with you and I look forward to future endeavors. You have inspired my college and adult life in many ways through your gifts and I will never forget it. Peace and Blessings to you on the new leg of your journey. -Samar Newsome