How Fairfield’s Restoration Academy chamber choir got an invite to perform at Carnegie Hall

By Rubin E. Grant

Special to The Times

The Restoration Academy Chorale performed at a Birmingham Barons game. They will soon travel to New York. (Provided photo)
The Restoration Academy Chorale performed at a Birmingham Barons game. They will soon travel to New York. (Provided photo)

The Restoration Academy chorale will cap a busy spring on May 11 with a concert at 6 p.m. at the Church of the Reconciler in Fairfield.

Over the past month, the chorale performed at its first national competition in St. Louis, April 6-9. The chorale sang at the prestigious St. Louis Heritage Festival and earned a trip to the famous Carnegie Hall in New York.

The judges gave the Restoration chamber choir a score of 90 and awarded them the gold medal in their division.

“I didn’t know we’d be first because we were going against some master choruses,” said Devin Jones, choir president, who is a junior at the school. “It didn’t hit me that we won until we were standing on stage at Six Flags (St. Louis) during the award ceremony. I’m just so thankful.”

Because of the triumph, the 16-member chamber choir from the small private urban Christian school in Fairfield received an invitation to perform in April, 2018 at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“Out of 30 choirs, of the ones that scored 90 and above, 10 were invited to sing at Carnegie Hall,” said DeZell Plump, the choir director. “The kids worked so hard and I am really proud of them.”

Restoration’s full chorale (28 members) finished second in its division.

“The judges were impressed with both groups,” Plump said, “but they didn’t know our background. We’ve had a choir for only two years and to do what they did on that playing field is so amazing.”

Don Lee, corporate sales Manager, Birmingham Barons; Mayor William Bell and DeZell Plump, choir director at Restoration Academy. (Provided photo)
Don Lee, corporate sales Manager, Birmingham Barons; Mayor William Bell and DeZell Plump, choir director at Restoration Academy. (Provided photo)

Once the choir returned home to Fairfield, it sang the national anthem at the Birmingham Barons’ home opener on April 12 at Regions Field.

The Restoration Chorale also performed April 20 during a school fund-raising luncheon at Iron City, sang the national anthem at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports on April 23 and performed in the Birmingham City Schools Choral Festival on April 24 at Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville.

What has transpired in such a short time for the Restoration Chorale is something Plump prayed for.

“I wanted to expose the kids to a number of things and I prayed they would perform with a sense of pride and excellence for God’s glory,” he said. “They are slowly beginning to realize how faithful God has been, opening doors for them and giving them exposure. They are finally getting an understanding of the whole purpose behind what we are doing.”