Jacqueline Butler Hairston -- an Oakland/San Francisco-based professional pianist, multi-talented ASCAP composer/arranger and vocal coach -- received her musical training at the Juilliard School of Music, Howard University School of Music, and her Masters in Music from Columbia University. While her education was in classical music, her professional career has given her experience in many realms, particularly in the world of Negro spirituals. Hairston's spiritual arrangement, You (and I) Can Tell the World, was given its world premiere by the sensational mezzo-soprano, Denyce Graves, and the Orlando Opera Chorus and Orchestra in 1998. The London Symphony Orchestra and Andre Kostelanetz Orchestra have recorded works by Hairston. Her last recorded musical-arranging project was a commission from internationally renowned soprano Kathleen Battle and master guitarist Christopher Parkening for their 1996 Christmas CD titled Angels' Glory. Battle also premiered two of Hairston's spiritual arrangements at her Carnegie Hall recital in 1993. Hairston was the 1998 Composer-in Residence for The Negro Spiritual Foundation of Orlando, Florida. Hairston's list of commissions is impressive and includes the names of Florence Quivar, New York's Opera Ebony, Shirley Verrett, Madame Grace Bumbry, Benjamin Matthews, William Warfield, Robert Sims and the 1993 March-On-Washington.
Hairston headed the music department at Merritt College in Oakland, California for several years where she formed the award-winning choir, The New Traveling Voices. One of its key vocalists, Dwayne Wiggins, went on to international fame as a member of the pop group, Tony, Toni, Tone. A popular female singer from the group, Maxine Jones, became a member of EnVogue, a group with which Hairston occasionally works. Hairston has received numerous awards for coaching and grooming young singers.
Hairston frequently worked with her cousin, the late acclaimed composer/conductor/actor, Dr. Jester Hairston, who was the oldest living (98 years old) preservationist of the Negro Spiritual at the time of his death earlier this year.
You can read more about Jacqueline Hairston and her work in the books Outstanding African-American Composers and Music by Black Women Composers
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