Singing Out in a Crowd

  • Monday, September 15, 2014

    Singing out in a crowd 

    Ebony Smith, class of 2014PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (Sept. 16, 2014) - Ebony Smith enjoys singing in public but prefers the semi-anonymity of performing with the UMES Concert Choir.

    She was surprised when broadcaster Ed Gordon made a fuss about a young woman whose stage presence caught his attention at the 2014 Founders' Day convocation and commencement ceremony.

    "I said, 'Who me?,'" Ebony recalled the day after Gordon's shout-out.

    "I like to perform, but not in the limelight," the senior from Baltimore said.

    Ebony is part of a large, talented group of student-singers who wowed the gathering at the Ella Fitzgerald Center for the Performing Arts, the venue for the combination convocation / commencement each September.

    She was not a soloist, just a focused, enthusiastic performer with no previous experience as a trained singer prior to enrolling at UMES.

    "She consistently learns her music quickly and is a choir tutor - one who assists others in learning their music," choir director Sheila Harleston said. "She constantly strives for excellence."

    Gordon noticed that excellence from his seat stage right and incorporated his impressions in his commencement message. He stepped away briefly from the lectern, walked over to an empty riser and animatedly encouraged degree recipients to approach their careers with the same energy and determination the young performer exhibited.

    The Concert Choir, at the time, had retired to the Fitzgerald center balcony.

    "I was stunned," Ebony said. "I've gotten compliments from professors, but to hear it coming from a guest speaker was so amazing."

    Harleston describes Ebony as "a leader in the Concert Choir, even when not performing.  In fact, she has been voted 'The Most Studious Concert Choir member' in the past."

    Ebony, 23, will graduate in December with a degree in general studies. She has her eye on attending graduate school, where her goal is to hone her skills as a vocal coach and lyricist.

    "I want to be the person behind the scenes," she said. "I like to see something I've created come alive in other people."

    Her tastes in music range from classical to baroque to romantic to jazz - and spiritual, her favorite.

    Fellow choristers congratulated Ebony and teased her good-naturedly about Gordon's compliments.

    "I was thrilled," she said. "By him doing that, it helped me promote the choir."

    Make a note: Ebony's senior recital is Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. in the Fitzgerald center.

    Bill Robinson, director, Office of Public Relations, (410) 621-2355