Charles Williams, a noted vocalist and actor (at Metropolitan Opera in the role as Sportin Life in Porgy and Bess and now is touring the world with Einstein on the Beach) has, for many years, dedicated a portion of his Summer to teaching and sharing the link between art and culture at the Legacy’s Global Youth Village (GYV).
His presence at GYV gives young people an opportunity to work not only with a highly skilled professional vocal trainer but with a performer who exemplifies a deep commitment to global peace and understanding.
“Every year I am grateful to offer opportunities for youth who are interested in expressing their concerns and ideas through the arts; diving deeper into voice and performance with Charles and other professional musicians and artists at the GYV. It has been my honor to work with and establish a more comprehensive program in the Arts and Music with Charles.“- J.E. Rash, President, Legacy International
A professional singer and voice teacher, Charles Williams teaches youth from around the world the joys of musical harmony and shared song. “It is an honor and pleasure to be a guest artist in residence in this village. I am privileged to share my knowledge of how the human voice can produce healthy and pleasant sounds.”– Charles Williams
In his vocal studio in metro Washington DC, Charles trains students to develop their own sound and style. While at GYV, Charles is helping youth to use their voice and share their sounds with youth from different cultures and often differing viewpoints.
“The voice is an instrument and you have to learn how to play this instrument, singing is a very natural act and it is an extension of speech.” – Charles Williams
This session’s Global Youth Village youth are from different parts of Iraq (Iraqi Youth Leadership Program), and from across the United States. They are learning about leadership, they are studying dialogue and conflict resolution, about mutual respect, about accepting, and learning about each other’s hopes. And they are sharing their voices with each other. With Charles help, they are singing together, harmonizing their voices and sharing the universal value of peaceful living.
Here is a clip of him directing his students during an evening program. They are singing a popular welcome song from Nigeria “Funga Alafia”.
Charles frequently uses poetry from Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson spirituals from the deep South and African cultural narratives to “explore the rich depths of the human heart.” He often teaches the students about the poetic treasures of the Harlem Renaissance, and the songs of the American Freedom Riders. Last year, he taught a group of Iraqi young men to do “The Hambone”, a rhythmic game played on ones’ own body, which they performed on stage for Sharing night with great success.
“They came, they bonded, they learned, they became one, brothers and sisters. They came and they formed a peaceful Global Youth Village. Peace-Salaam-Shalom” -Charles Williams.
Here’s an Audio clip of Charles reading James Weldon Johnson’s story, “The Creation“.
Charles Williams is a vocalist and musician and has been a guest artist at Global Youth Village since the 1980′s. Louisiana-born Williams has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Barns at Wolf Trap, The Smithsonian, and the Kennedy Center. He was the vocal coach for the Grammy-Award winning vocal group “Sweet Honey on the Rock”.
“A true patron saint of the voice.”
-Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the Grammy award-winning vocal group, Sweet Honey in the Rock.
For over 30 years, Charles Williams has been teaching voice at the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C.. Meet Charles and one of his students in the following video.