ON THIS DATE in 1997, sixteen-year-old soprano Lezlie Watson and 52 other members of the Girls Choir of Harlem made their concert debut at the Alice Tully Hall of the Lincoln Center in New York. While the Boys Choir of Harlem, formed in 1968, had performed for the Pope and recorded an album, the girls’ choir had struggled to attract corporate sponsors and other sources of funding since reassembling in 1989. The singers, wearing full-length, plum-colored gowns, began the concert by singing “in perfect German,” according to The New York Times, from Schumann’s “Country Song,” Opus 29, No. 1. “Their voices were equally at home with composer Robert Schumann’s romantic moodiness and the joyful refrains of ‘He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands,’” raved the Staten Island Advance in a review of the sold-out performance.

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