LIFT EVERY VOICE: Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from All of God's Children by Walter with Howard Manly Turnbull

LIFT EVERY VOICE: Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from All of God's Children

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A straightforward but largely banal account of Turnbull's formative years and his experiences as founder and director of the renowned Boys Choir of Harlem. Though raised in a single-parent home, Turnbull's boyhood years contrasted sharply with those of many young black males growing up today. Despite an absentee father, there was a strong mother and several supportive constants in his life. In accordance with the well-known African adage he quotes, Turnbull had an entire village to raise him. And growing up away from white people, he contends, allowed him to develop pride and self-esteem. Turnbull's concern for this generation's young black males, combined with his deep love of music, motivated him to found and direct the world-class Boys Choir of Harlem. Turnbull's life and book assert that unswerving faith in young people will reshape lives. Young black males must be taught ""respect, honesty, integrity, discipline, hard work and love, regardless of America's blatant and subtle forms of racism."" Turnbull is less convincing in his sweeping condemnations of the public schools, which did not create the profound social problems affecting many students. He portrays both public and private schools as ""inflexible and unable to meet the needs of minority children."" He glibly declares that ""the system is meant to stifle creativity and maintain the status quo."" Turnbull unfairly compares his own school's alumni to those of others, not considering the exclusivity of his admissions policy. His school began in 1986 as an elementary school, a successful outgrowth of the Boys Choir of Harlem. Marred by Boston Globe reporter Manly's pallid prose and Turnbull's self-congratulatory tone, this is most valuable when depicting the emotional and physical horrors that many of Turnbull's young charges face. The beautiful music here involves the lives orchestrated, and in many cases rescued, by Turnbull's dedication.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 1995
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Hyperion