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Boys Choir Of Harlem Officially Disbands

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Boys Choir Of Harlem Officially Disbands

Boys Choir Of Harlem Officially Disbands

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

For the past four decades, the Boys Choir of Harlem has captivated audiences around the world. This is the time of year when it would ordinarily perform at some of the nation's foremost concert halls. But the choir is now officially disbanded.

NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.

NEDA ULABY: The Boys Choir of Harlem began in 1968, when a young graduate student noticed that kids in his Harlem neighborhood had nothing to do. Before his death two years ago, Walter Turnbull told NPR the needs of the kids dictated the choir's growth into a school � with tutoring, counseling, and social services. Sometimes Turnbull said he picked kids not for their voices, but because the choir could help them.

Dr. WALTER TURNBULL (Founder, Boys Choir of Harlem): Whether a kid had a coat or whether he was cold, or whether the family was breaking up or there was nobody for them, or whether they were going to have to go into a foster home.

ULABY: Ninety-eight percent of those kids graduated from high school, Turnbull said, with many earning music scholarships to college. He started a girls' choir in 1988.

But Turnbull believed that young men in the inner-city face a new set of dangers when their voice changed. So defying tradition, Turnbull created parts for alto and bass.

(Soundbite of the choir)

ULABY: The Harlem Boys Choir was shattered by scandal in 2001, when it came out that a staff member who molested a student was allowed to keep working at the school. After Turnbull died in 2007, the choir never recovered, according to representatives who announcement its demise last week.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

(Soundbite of choir)

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