Visitors to First Baptist Church of Hamlet’s Veterans’ Benefit Concert are in for a rare treat Saturday when Jacquelyn White, an opera singer with local roots, performs with the Koinonia Community Choir.
The performance is part of Shaniqua Bostick’s senior project for Richmond County Schools. Bostick will graduate from Richmond Senior High School on June 13. The daughter of a disabled veteran, Shaniqua developed a passion for the welfare of veterans at an early age.
Shaniqua’s aunt, Hermena Bostick Williams, is proud of her niece’s hard work to bring the benefit together.
“The first part is a motorcycle bike ride,” Williams said. “Shaniqua’s had all kinds of support from her church and pastor at Providence Baptist Church. They’ve just been so helpful. But this was all Shaniqua’s idea, her project.”
Shaniqua has been accepted to Fayetteville State University where she plans to study to become a social worker
“She believes she can become a more effective liaison between military people and those who have never been in the military and are not as aware of the needs that are germane to their experience,” Williams said.
The Playaz Elite Motorcycle Club veterans bike ride starts and ends at First Baptist Church in Hamlet. Registration is 10 to 11:30 a.m. with kick stands up at noon. The cost to ride is $10 for singles and $15 for couples.
All of the proceeds from the bike ride will be disbursed to help meet the needs of disabled veterans in the community.
At 7 p.m., the singers will perform “God’s Trombones” by James Weldon Johnson, accompanied by White, a lyric soprano.
White said she is an accidental opera singer. She learned of her vocal ability at age 17 when her school chorus teacher overheard her singing more loudly than the rest.
“She played a certain scale,” White said. “She played it on the piano and had me sing it back to her. I later learned it was the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute.’”
White graduated from Hempstead High School of Long Island, New York and attended Central State in Ohio for two years.
“I started college at 17,” she said. “After Central State, I took a couple of years off to teach private lessons in Raleigh in voice and piano. I wasn’t ready for college yet at that age.”
By age 20, White was back in college at North Carolina Central University. There, she studied under vocal coach Elvira Green, who had sung for 20 years with the Metropolitan Opera. White’s voice was powerful and distinctive, and more than once she was referred to as “a young Leontyne Price.” She graduated from NC Central at age 24 and moved back to the area to be with her mother.
White was quick to lend her talent to Shaniqua’s senior project, and looks forward to Saturday’s performance.
In the near future White will return to New York to pursue her opera career.