Northern Black Choir celebrates 45th anniversary

By Logan Love

The Northern Black Choir (NBC) celebrated its 45th anniversary Sunday with a concert featuring singing, dancing and skits.

Jeremy White, junior English major and assistant director for the choir, talked about the group’s founding.

“Today’s event is a celebration of our 45th anniversary,” White said. “We’ve been on this campus since 1968. We were founded by Kenneth Lennon. It was his dream and 45 years later were still here.”

Lennon was in attendance for the celebration.

“I’m glad we’ve existed for 45 years,” Lennon said.

Lennon founded the NBC at a time when racial tensions still ran high, as Jennene Anthony, former NBC head director, explained.

“Our founder, Kenneth Lennon, has taught us a spiritual [song] that probably will be my favorite song,” Anthony siad. “When the choir started in 1968, African Americans were not really able to, or were being discriminated against, as far as joining the regular university choir. Mr. Lennon wanted something that would speak to his culture that would speak to what African Americans were going through at the time and that’s really how the black choir came about.”

Anthony is the former head director for the choir. He graduated in 2010 with dual degrees. She is currently a third grade teacher but still frequents DeKalb and supports the black choir. Anthony said the singing and music is what drew her to the choir, but the sense of community kept her there.

“I’ve always had a passion for singing…,” Anthony said. “I enjoyed the power of music. All of the passion that I saw the choir sing with. They were fun, they were energetic, and they were young people like me. I also could see that they were community oriented.”

Anthony also said that the group has a powerful history and a platform for leadership.

“As I got to be a member of the choir, I got to learn about the history and some of the past directors and the person that founded the choir,” Anthony said. “The choir just provides a place for a lot of people to become leaders…it gave me an opportunity to be in charge and a chance to see what that’s like.”

White said the choir was the first non-Greek black organization started on campus, and talked about the songs that the choir sings.

“We sing typically gospel music and contemporary, but we’ve also been known to sing jazz songs or Negro spirituals,” White said.

Sophomore pre-nursing major Nzinga Moyenda was on hand supporting her mother, another alumna who sang in the choir.

“So she’s back now to sing with the rest of the alumni,” Moyenda said. “When she told me, I was like ‘OK, I want to check it out and see what’s going on,’ and I love it.”

Moyenda’s favorite part was a dramatization of marriage where one participant represented Jesus and the other humanity. After seeing the choir firsthand Moyenda encouraged students to check it out.

“Black Choir is awesome,” Moyenda said. “Anybody interested should try out with them, it’s nice.”

Sophomore pre-nursing major Shannon McCabe and junior psychology major Sarah Schipp were at event to support friends in the choir.

“It’s been really interesting because I wasn’t expecting all the performances like the dancing and the interpretations,” McCabe said.

Schipp agreed with McCabe about the concert’s variety, but also said that it could have used more publicity.

“I think it’s pretty cool they do this, and I’m glad I came,” Schipp said. “I wouldn’t have known about it if I didn’t if I wasn’t friends with Karen [Uta’atu] and Tanya [Dupree], but I think it’s cool. It’s a different experience. [Other students] should give it a chance. They probably hear about it and they don’t really know what it’s about, but they should try it.”

White said the group is open to anyone interested, and members of the choir develop personally as well as musically.

“It was a place that got me because of the people who were in it before,” White said. ”When I joined the Northern Black Choir, it became a family. It was really a place for me to grow and to meet new people. It’s help me grow in my personal life as well as in my music.”

For more information visit the NIU Black Choir at