Veterans Celebrated with Song


During his childhood, Philadelphia CBS 3 news reporter Ukee Washington was a member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir.  A few months ago Ukee and the Philadelphia Boys Choir were ask to sing God Bless America at a Phillies National League Championship baseball game — but as most of us know, the Phillies were eliminated before that could happen.

However, Mr. Washington still had the desire to do something special and came up with the idea of creating a musical tribute for Veterans Day 2011.  Ukee shared his idea with his longtime friend and talented music director, Bill Jolly.  They decided to include not only the Philadelphia Boys Choir, but also provided an opportunity for other residing in the Philadelphia-area singers to take part in this special musical recording, and yours truly was able to participate in this very moving music project.

Thanks to Mr. Bill Jolly and the message he posted on Facebook stating he was looking for singers in all vocal ranges interested in volunteering their voices and time in creating this musical recording.  So on the afternoon of Saturday, November 5, 2011, I along with a few other local singers gathered in the beautiful sanctuary of the Zion Baptist Church located at 6300 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and recorded the various vocal parts of God Bless America under the direction of Mr. Bill Jolly.  When I arrived at the church, Bill Jolly was in the midst of working with the Philadelphia Boys Choir vocals — and they sounded great as usual!  Next it was time for this soprano and all of the other women’s voices to share their musical talents;  then he moved on to working on the men’s vocal parts.  Mr. Ukee Washington entered the church sanctuary dressed in a red Philadelphia Boys Choir jacket and greeted the singers.  Eventually Mr. Jolly directed everyone to fill the choir box and CBS 3 videotaped all of us singing a beautiful arrangement of God Bless America which was aired on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011.

Celebrating Veterans Day with a musical tribute was an amazing and wonderful event.  There’s nothing better than being able to not only do what I love, which is singing, but to share it with other fellow singers, recognizing all of the  United States Military veterans, and ultimately sharing a touching musical moment with the world.  Truly a memorable musical experience that will never be forgotten!


Heidi Norris
A Vocalist and a Concert Opera Philadelphia Company Board Member. Earned a M.S. Degree from Full Sail University (July 2010), and B.A. In Music from Immaculata University (May 2006). Works in the Accounts Payable division of J.W. Pepper.

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