Journey through the life of the great Renaissance Man, Paul Robeson. You will hear about the life of this athlete, scholar, lawyer, actor, singer and human, civil and worker's rights activist. Mr. Robeson used his fame as a performer to speak out against discrimination and for human rights. Interwoven throughout the stories and monologues are over 30 of Robeson songs sung (including his famous rendition of Old Man River) by Jason McKinney (Winston-Salem). Mr. McKinney is accompanied by Christopher Bagley (Greensboro).
Bass-Baritone - Originally from Milwaukee WI, USA, Mr. McKinney graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied voice with soprano Marilyn Taylor and tenor Glenn Siebert, conducting with Maestro James Allbritten,composing with Kenneth Frazelle, and clarinet with Robert Listokin. Whilst in school Mr. McKinney was the recipient of the Helen Odom scholarship, the Music Dean’s Talent scholarship, and the Chancellor’s Grant for Excellence. Jason was the winner of the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee’s Harold Levin scholarship competition and was awarded the Judges Choice award at the Metropolitan Opera’s district competition. Jason won that competition in the South Carolina District and continued on to place second in the Southeastern Regional Finals. Jason has had the opportunity to premier new works by Kenneth Frazelle, Shelley Olson, Daniel Sonnenberg, Chandler Carter and Lawrence Dillon. Jason has gone on to perform at such prestigious venues as The Kennedy Center, The White House, The Semper Opera House in Dresden Germany, The Hamburgische Staatsoper, The Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany, Opera Kommische in Berlin Germany, Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily, and The Theatre Carre in Amsterdam Netherlands.
As a young person Jason was educated in Judaica at the Hillel Academy in Fox Point, WI. There he was first introduced to Jewish music, and that exposure influenced his love of music spurring him to learn a musical instrument. As a member of a Boy Scout explorer post Jason learned to play the Albert System clarinet in the New Orleans style and eventually was invited to play with the prestigious Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the French quarter.
On the stage Mr. McKinney has performed with numerous opera companies in the US and in Europe. Some of his favorite roles are the title roles in Don Giovanni, and Le Nozze di Figaro and in the Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Other roles include Colline in La Boheme, Olin Blitch in Sussanah, Dr Grenville in La Traviata, and Ashby in Fanciulla del West. Mr. McKinney is well known as a quick study and has been called upon to be a last minute replacement on many occasions, sometimes being required to perform with as little as eight hours notice a role he did not know before.
As a concert soloist Mr. McKinney has been featured with the North Carolina Symphony, the Eugene Symphony and has performed to critical acclaim in Europe, Mexico the U.S. Israel and Australia. Mr. McKinney has over 15 years as cantorial soloist in Spartanburg, SC, Easton MD, and currently at Temple Emanuel Winston-Salem NC. He is also a frequent guest Soloist with several synagogues worldwide. Mr. McKinney composes Jewish liturgical music which he shares with Jewish communities throughout the US. Mr McKinney is Choir section leader at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston Salem NC. As an Actor Mr. McKinney has sung and portrayed “Paul Robeson” by Phillip Hayes Dean, Mckinney’s own original recital “Moments with Paul” , and studied the opera Paul Robeson by Adolphus Hailstork. Other historical figures that he has portrayed include Malcolm X, John P. Parker and an original work titled “Frederick-a Musical Narrative” commissioned by the Brookletts place senior center, Easton, MD, and the Frederick Douglass Honor Society.
Mr. Bagley, a native Baltimorean, was initially introduced to the world of music and theater when his father started teaching him piano at age 5. He also played the trumpet, clarinet and saxophone throughout his school years. He performed instrumentally and vocally with both the All-City Band and Chorus in Baltimore and the All-State Band and Chorus in Maryland.
Chris has served many protestant denominations as a choir director, accompanist and soloist not only in Baltimore, MD but in Houston, TX, Wichita, KS, Chicago, IL, Richmond, VA, Oxford, NC and Winston-Salem, NC. He has acted in, directed, musically directed or accompanied over 50 theatrical productions throughout the country. Among his favorite onstage roles are Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy, Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
After spending years in the nonprofit executive management and fund development fields, Chris has most recently served as a full-time director of church music for 15 years and is now Director of Music and organist at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Graham, NC. He keeps his hand in the nonprofit world with his company, FundAbility, as a fundraising, strategic planning and board development consultant to small nonprofits and is President of his theatrical production company, United in Music, Inc. UIM produces shows based on preserving the legacy of Paul Robeson.