Dynamic award-winning singer Bonita Simmons, Craven Community College (Craven CC) associate in fine arts (AFA) in music graduate, has launched into the next phase of her life as a staff member of the AFA program.
Simmons coordinates the Craven CC Gospel Choir, or 3CGC for short, and the choir music library. According to Simmons, 3CGC represents Craven CC with urban African-American contemporary gospel – communal Christian life music with jazz rhythms. “Contemporary gospel is a vibrant youthful sound, mixed with secular and gospel sounds with religious connotations,” defines Dr. Chauncey Stevenson, program coordinator for the AFA Music Program.
3CGC was started a year ago with a small group of 10 people. It has now grown to 18 regular participants with a full band of drums, keyboard and bass guitar. “We have an open door policy to anyone in the community,” welcomes Simmons.
Craven CC extends a special invitation to those who are active leaders in their church, ministers, choir members, or individuals who want to be part of this community choir. Singers will utilize their gifts in a setting that is conducive to learning. This is “not just about belting out music. It is about how to sing and breathe properly, and how to best utilize your voice and instrumental abilities,” said Stevenson.
“I’ve always known Bonita as a dynamic singer. As a student at Craven CC she was introduced to formal vocal training, which enhanced her outstanding talent. I watched her sing music that was out of her comfort area and she excelled at that. I have known Bonita since she was a teenager opening for Grammy Award winning Pastor Shirley Caesar. I’ve watched Bonita grow as a vocal musician and entertainer,” said Stevenson.
Simmons was recently recognized by the Independent Gospel Artist Radio Alliance with an award for best Traditional Female Vocalist of the year and two awards from the Rhythm of Gospel Awards. She won Best Female Performance and Traditional Artist of the Year in late June from the National and Independent Gospel Award board in Jacksonville Florida.
“There is a wealth of knowledge to share with our community here at Craven CC,” declared Simmons. Opportunities are here for individuals seeking to be a music teacher, music therapist, professional performing artist, musical minister, composer or conductor. Craven CC offers scholarships through ENCORE! (Craven CC’s singing ambassadors) and the Financial Aid Office. Simmons took advantage of several scholarship opportunities and was a lead singer in ENCORE!
“Craven has given me footing. I’m blessed to share in this music program,” venerated Simmons. 3CGC typically practices one song to perfection and then moves onto the next one. “We want to be a source of light to the community.,” said Simmons.
The 3CGC practices for an hour on Mondays from 6-7 p.m. in Room 127 of Orringer Hall on the New Bern campus. Contact Dr. Chauncey Stevenson (252) 638-7357 firstname.lastname@example.org or Bonita Simmons at (252) 635-3780 for more information.
AFA Music Appreciation classes are offered in CravenCC’s 8-week B-term in addition to 33 other condensed courses. Register now at www.CravenCC.edu. Classes begin October 18.
Nancy Childs is the marketing specialist at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.