Simmons-O'Neal Memorial Concert Is Sunday

  • Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Members of the Chattanooga Boys Choir and the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song will join voices on Sunday at 3 p.m. for the 30th annual Simmons-O’Neal Memorial Concert honoring two revered Chattanooga area music educators, Edmonia Simmons and Everett O’Neal. The concert will be held on the campus of Baylor School’s in the Alumni Chapel. Admission to the program is free.

Edmonia Simmons, the founder director of the CCSPAAS, was a music teacher whose career in music education spanned over 50 years including decades of service to hundreds of students at Howard High School. Everett O'Neal was a widely known public school music teacher, supervisor, and church musician as well as longtime director of the Boys Choir. The two directors were close friends and contributed richly to the growth of musical performances and development of music education throughout the Chattanooga community.

This year’s concert features special guest D’Walla Simmons-Burke, director of Choral Activities at Winston Salem State University. Maestra Burke studied at Hampton University under the tutelage of Chattanooga native, former CCSPAAS Director and Edmonia Simmons student, Dr. Roland Carter. Maestra Burke will lead a workshop with both choirs and conduct the ensembles at the concert on pieces including Tesfa Wondemagegnehu’s “We Shall Overcome,” John Rutter’s “Look at the World,” and “Music of Life” by Brittney Boykin. The concert will close with Meastra Burke leading the choirs in Dr. Carter’s famed arrangement of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

This concert, a favorite annual tradition of members and audiences of both ensembles, is distinct for having not ever been held in the same location twice in its three decades. Moving between churches, schools, concert halls, libraries, and other community venues – including an online offering in 2021 – the concert moves throughout all areas of the Scenic City to make it accessible throughout the region. In addition to the combined pieces performed by the combined choirs, both the CBC and the CCSPAAS will present pieces separately as well.

The Simmons-O’Neal concert marks another special milestone event for the two choirs this season. The CBC and CCSPAAS toured together this past summer, traveling and performing in civil rights museums and cultural venues in Birmingham, Montgomery, Auburn and Atlanta.

Together, members of these two choirs – spanning over six decades in age but sharing a common love for music-making and cultural exchange – shared with each other and with large audiences the impact of choral music.

"Bringing together these incredible voices, these diverse experiences, and these impressive legacies - choirs with a combined 100+ years of history, composer/conductors who have taught and influenced thousands of musicians – this will be a special event that is not to be missed and will be enjoyed by everyone,” said Vincent Oakes, Chattanooga Boys Choir’s artistic director.

For more information about the concert or about the Chattanooga Boys Choir, visit,

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