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Principal Director

CECELIA WICKHAM ANDERSON

CeCelia Wickham Anderson has over 20 years experience as a singer incorporating Gospel, Spirituals, Jazz, African and Caribbean genres into her repertoire, and 10 years experience as an accomplished workshop leader.

Rooted in the black church, she began piano lessons, aged 9, playing for church services, and accompanying various groups and soloists in her early teens. Her passion for singing initially developed through singing with her family and then after becoming the Assistant Director of the Handsworth Seventh Day Adventist Chorale.

Since then she has been a member of various groups and choirs, and has shared the stage, and performed with various celebrities such as, Mick Hucknell, Jules Holland, and Willard White, and more recently Ray Charles, Take 6 and Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Jazz Centre Orchestra.

She has performed at various Royal and Parliamentary events, in the presence of members of the Royal Family including Princess Diana and the Queen, President Clinton and Tony Blair, in such venues as the Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth Halls, the opening of the Dome, Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Observance Day, The Royal Albert Hall and The Royal Opera House, Australia.

She has also provided backing vocals for some well known Gospel artists such as Vicki Winans, Alvin Slaughter and Helen Baylor, and has made several television and radio appearances with Black Voices and the London Adventist Chorale. She has also worked in commercial advertising for both radio and television.

She formed her first female gospel group, Living Water in 1976 who travelled extensively throughout Europe and the Caribbean, singing in the oral tradition.

In 1983, she moved to London, and is now a full time singer/workshop leader, and assistant choir director, dividing her time between Black Voices, Vox Simba Community Choir, Chelmsford Gospel Choir and her company ETHNO VOX Ltd, run jointly with her husband, Colin.

She joined Black Voices in April 2000 singing tenor and bass. Black Voices, a female acappella quintet, "is one of the most solid and leading performance and teaching companies in the UK, sharing acappella, primarily from Africa but also throughout the Diaspora. The company, while inspired by Sweet Honey in the Rock, Mahalia Jackson, Take Six to name a few, has, since inception, forged its own dynamic way of distilling and representing black music from an African, Caribbean, Black British perspective. Grounded in the black church, the group presents acappella, both sacred and secular, which challenges, is captivating and entertaining. From Gospel to spirituals, Caribbean to African, jazz and blues". The Guardian, 2004

In addition to performances, she facilitates workshops, on behalf of Black Voices working in partnership with organisations such as Music 4 Change and the National Foundation for Youth Music and her own company working in partnership with Greenwich and Woolwich, teaching the Oral Tradition. Workshops are offered to all age groups, professional and non-professional singers, schools and colleges.

Some comments/feedback from participants who have attended her workshops:

"Celia was amazing"
"Excellently led by Celia - great voice and good teaching technique"
"Students were thrilled"
"Very successful - nothing but good feedback"
"Excellent help for material for the group and forthcoming concerts. Students benefited from expert tuition."
"I have never learned so much or enjoyed myself so much within one hour!"
"Celia was fantastic and her enthusiasm was so contagious"
"Thanks Celia, you were brilliant - I enjoyed the gamelan and Scottish music workshops too, but would have happily spent all day with you!!"

Her first Music Director opportunity came in 2000 for the Millennium Mystery Play, written by David Hill. The aim of the collaboration was to combine two culturally different art forms, English Theatre and Black Gospel Music, to create an exciting and successful production that toured for two months throughout London and the neighbouring counties.

Other collaborations include three projects (Love Potion, Uncles Remus and Koanga) with Pegasus, the only Black Opera Company in London as part of the ensemble, in addition to facilitating workshops in schools around London where the students developed and performed their own opera based on the Koanga Opera project.

A project with Level Seven, as Music Director for the theatre production "Nobody Knows" which highlighted the story of Olaudah Equiano and the abolition of the slave trade as seen through his eyes, written and directed by Mervyn Weir.

As part of the celebrations in 2007 to mark 200 years of the abolition of the slave trade in this country, Celia facilitated a series of workshops in partnership with the British Museum with community singers and schools in the Camden area, highlighting the story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers through the Spirituals. The series of workshops culminated in a performance at the Museum, with a guest appearance from the current Music Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

In 2009 Celia became the Principal Director for the Chelmsford Community Gospel Choir, a multi-racial, multi-faith group of dedicated singers, looking to expand their experience and repertoire.

She continues to work with community choirs and groups around the country while fulfilling an increasing diary of performances here and abroad with Black Voices.