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THREE MO' TENORS: Kicking Off Tour At The Lehman Center for Performing Arts

By Deardra Shuler

There are those among you whom will hear the name Three Mo’ Tenors and will jump to the conclusion the show features only classical music and therefore is too high brow for the melodic palate of some. However, those non classical lovers would be wrong. African Americans James Berger, Duane A. Moody, and African, Phumzile Sojola are classically trained but they also have the vocal chops to sing more than opera. These talented tenors make it appear that they can move effortlessly from Opera to Broadway tunes, from Broadway tunes to hip hop and from hip hop to Blues and gospel. Three Mo’ Tenors offer a musical and dance extravaganza that will delight audiences of all musical tastes. For an evening of fine entertainment and eclectic music don’t miss ‘Three Mo’ Tenors’ at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, on the campus of Lehman College in the Bronx, where the Tenors will be celebrating Black History Month, on Thursday, February 16, 2006 at 8:00 p.m.

“We are presently rehearsing for our upcoming tour which kicks off with the Lehman Center engagement,” commented James Berger. “The show features 3 classically trained African American tenors who sing R&B, jazz, gospel, the blues and soul. We are singing 7 different styles of music which can be difficult and wearing on one’s voice when making the transition from one musical genre to the other,” explained the Washington based tenor. “So, that is why we have 2 sets of Three Mo’ Tenors performing. The other featured tenors are Victor Robertson, Ramone Diggs, Marvin Scott, and Kenneth Gayle” commented the talented singer. The show also takes the occasion to spotlight African American tenors in order to give them the opportunity to showcase their talent before an appreciative crowd.

Three Mo’ Tenors first came to national prominence in 2001, when the show was televised by PBS' "Great Performances."  From Verdi's "La Donna E Mobile" to Fats Waller's; "Honeysuckle Rose" to Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You," the musical roster features a grand selection of lively tunes sure to keep the audience enthralled. Audiences will be electrified by this must-see performance which spans 400 years and several musical styles. The Lehman Center audience will be the first to see this exciting new version of the show, conceived and directed by veteran Broadway performer, choreographer, and director Marion J. Caffey.

James Berger was introduced to opera at age fourteen and has been singing since age two. He studied extensively for two years, eventually placing second in the Leontyne Price Regionals in Maryland. Continuing his studies at the Catholic University of America, Berger performed roles in Puccini's Il Trittico, Madame Butterfly, and Die Zaubertflote. At age 21, he joined the Washington National Opera Company, under the artistic direction of operatic great Placido Domingo, performing in numerous operas, including Sampson & Deliliah with Denyce Graves. Berger has toured Japan, performing with Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Veronica Viloreal. “I grew up listening to whatever my parents played. I listened to gospel and R&B but when I went to school to become trained musically, the standard for vocal training was classical.” explained Berger. “At first I was apprehensive because it was foreign to me. I had to learn the Italian, French, and German language. But being classically trained has helped me in other areas of singing so it was worthwhile.”

Washington D.C. native Duane A. Moody studied at Boston University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University, earning Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Vocal Performance and a Graduate Performance Diploma in Operatic Studies. In 1997, he made his professional recital debut at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and, in 1998, he made his professional stage debut at the IV Festival des Artes in Itu, Brazil in the role of "Sportin' Life" in the opera Porgy and Bess. He received the Outstanding Emerging Artist Award in Music from the D.C. Commission of the Arts and Humanities in 2002. Moody has appeared in numerous productions of Porgy and Bess in the US and abroad.

Phumzile Sojola, a native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, studied at the University of Kentucky and Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music. He has been a featured soloist with Lexington Philharmonic, Knoxville Symphony, the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, and the American Spiritual Ensemble. He was a Grand Prize Recipient of the 2000 Orpheus National Vocal Competition and a finalist at the 2005 MacAllister Awards. Sojola has performed with the Glimmerglass Opera and the Dayton Opera and in 2004 debuted the role of Arthur in Nathan Davis' “Just Above My Head” with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.

“The tenors will sing close to 23 songs. We will do dance numbers in the blues, jazz, and R&B sections of the show. But don’t expect us to be another Debbie Allen,” chuckled Berger. “After we leave Lehman, we will go to Toronto and Detroit. We will be featured on the “Morning Show,” in the hopes of eventually doing a Broadway run” said Berger. “I will sing a Marvin Gaye song, Steven Sondheim song, and a “Minnie the Moocher” solo as a tribute to Cab Callaway. I am also singing Luther Vandross’s song, “Superstar” among others. Thus far, we have had wonderful audience reaction to our show, so I hope folks will continue to support us. Three Mo’ Tenors is a spectacular show and I am happy to note audiences have enjoyed it.”

Tickets for the "Three Mo' Tenors" performance on Thursday, February 16, 2006, at 8 PM are: $30, $25, and $20 and can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718 960-8833 (Mon. through Fri., 10 AM - 5 PM, and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert), or through 24-hour online access at www.LehmanCenter.org.

Travelers can access Lehman Center via the #4 and/or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. Drivers can access Bedford Park Blvd via the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway.  Free attended parking is available.
Lehman Center receives support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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