Posted by News Express | 7 June 2013 | 6,298 times
It was a night of fun, music and laughter as hundreds of people from various walks of life filled the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Abuja, to celebrate legendary artiste Harcourt Whyte.
Among the music enthusiasts who graced the event which just ended in the Nigerian capital city are multi-talented artiste Charly Boy (real name Charles Oputa); his father, legendary jurist Chukwudifu Oputa, his mother Margaret and his wife, Lady Diane.
Thirty-five years after his death, Harcourt Whyte came alive as five world-class Nigerian choirs took turns to thrill the packed hall with some of the great composer’s classics.
The night started with a soulful rendition of the Nigerian National Anthem by the Abuja Chorale Ensemble directed and conducted by Barr. Everyman Eleanya.
Then came the opening prayer by Bishop Chris Ede, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Harcourt Whyte Foundation, organisers of the event tagged “An Evening with Harcourt Whyte”.
This was followed by a welcome address by Ugo Okorafor, also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, and then a touching performance by iconic broadcaster Nnamdi Olebara, who performed with Harcourt Whyte and who read a poem in which the late gospel music exponent proclaimed that he remains alive though physically dead.
First to thrill the expectant crowd was the J. Clef Chorale of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) directed and conducted by Jude Nwankwo; followed by the Achinivu-Harcourt Whyte Choral Association, Arochukwu, Abia State (directed and conducted by Prof. A. Kanu Achinivu, PhD).
Justice Oputa, a former Justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court, gave a short but inspiring talk praising Harcourt Whyte and recommending his never-say-die spirit to all those who wish to succeed in life.
This was followed by performances by the University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT) Concert Chorus directed and conducted by Prof. Onyee Nwankpa; Ikoli Harcourt White Choir, Lagos, led and directed by Elder Ogbonnaya Nnabugwu; and Abuja Chorale Ensemble. A joint performance by all the groups conducted by Prof. Achinivu brought the night to a memorable climax.
All the groups were at their musical best and were each rewarded with a standing ovation by the appreciative audience.
“An Evening with Harcourt Whyte” was the first in a series of efforts by the Harcourt Whyte Foundation to revive and promote his music. Other important personalities that turned up for the show included financial whizkid Albert Okumagba, senior management staff of Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as Mrs. Ezinwa N. Okoroafor, Co-ordinator of the Harcourt Whyte Foundation, and some other members of the Board, among them Sir Godwin Harcourt-Whyte , Dr. Lucky Somiari Whyte, Mr. Kevin Ejiofor and Chukwunyere Nwaononiwu.
Ikoli Harcourt Whyte was born in Abonnema in Rivers State in 1905 but spent the greater part of his life at Uzuakoli Leprosy Colony in the present Abia State of Nigeria, where he raised a choir that regularly performed his compositions at the Methodist Church Lohum, Uzuakoli.
Before his death in 1977, Harcourt Whyte composed over 300 sacred hymns used in Methodist Church of Nigeria in the then Eastern Nigeria and beyond. Over time, these sacred songs spread and became very popular that it could no longer be compartmentalised or classified as Methodist Church songs as they were widely used in Christian worships across different Christian denominations.
•Photo shows Prof. Prof. Achinivu and his Arochukwu Harcourt-Whyte-Chorale.
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