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About Awilda Verdejo
The People Speak
Awilda's Sample Programs
Artist's Compact Disc

Madrid, Spain in Concert

St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church Recital - Seattle, WA

All my life, I have sung. My mother tells the story that when I was a little girl, using the windowsill as my piano, I would prop a picture book as music, make up my own songs, and serenade the neighborhood. I sang in church, in school, at friends' homes, with my sisters, in the choir; whenever and wherever I had the opportunity, I sang. I knew that when I grew up, I would be a singer.

My parents had other ideas, and I became a high school English teacher in New York City. I soon realized that this was not where I wanted to be and gave up teaching to try my fortune singing. I applied and was accepted at The Juilliard School on scholarship. The first time I stood on a stage and sang, I felt the universe rejoicing with me, and I knew I had come home. I remember how thrilled I was the first time one of my performances was reviewed by a newspaper. Even when a colleague said, "wait until you get your first bad review," nothing could mar my joy. The years passed and I began to doubt the authenticity of my singing whenever I was given a negative comment. I started judging and manipulating my voice to produce "the perfect sound," and never satisfied with the results, I lost my joy. Singing became serious business. Performances were stressful.

In 1998, someone approached me about doing a concert and I said, "I will do a concert of Spirituals." To this day, I don't know what prompted me to say that. While I had, on occasion, included Spirituals in my recitals, I had never devoted an entire program solely to them. I wasn't even sure that I had enough material to do a whole concert of Spirituals. I went into my archives and found songs that I had collected over the years; songs that I couldn't even remember how I had acquired them. The response from my family and friends, upon hearing that I had taken on this project, was overwhelmingly positive. The support was incredible. Someone sent me a collection of Roland Hayes' arrangements that are magnificent. Someone encouraged me to apply for a grant to do more Spirituals concerts. Everyone encouraged me to record them. And for me, this music helped me reconnect my spirit with God, and gave me back my joy. This joy opened my heart and taught me that life is about balance, and balance is perfection. Spirituals understand that where there is despair, there is hope, where there is hatred, there is forgiveness, and where there is sadness, there is also joy. Ultimately, they express abiding love. These songs have empowered me to sing in celebration of, and thanksgiving for the gift of music.

Awilda's Signature
Awilda's Photo Album - Page 1

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