‘I wouldn’t have missed this for the world’

Mr. James Summers, Class of 1938, sings the Claflin University Alma Mater.

Mr. James Summers, Class of 1938, sings the Claflin University Alma Mater.

One look in Mr. James Summers’ eyes and this whole trip is worth it – the long bus rides, checking in and out of hotels, fatigue – it’s all worth it. Mr. Summers is a 1938 graduate of Claflin University and a former member of the concert choir. He arrived at the choir’s concert at Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena, Calif. –  where the pastor, Rev. Dr. James E. Stevenson, Sr., is a 1984 alumni of Claflin – and spryly walked down the isle. He sat done to listen to the choir’s pre-concert warm-ups. As the choir practiced, Mr. Summers tilted his head back, closed his eyes and gently moved his head from side to side.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything,” he said smiling. “I can tell, even in the rehearsals, the quality of this choir. You can hear it in the tone. They are wonderful and I’m so proud.”

At age 91, Mr. Summers joked that 1938 seems like 100 years ago. Seats were filled to capacity as the choir performed, dedicating the song “Make a Joyful Noise” to Mr. Summers as a salute to him.

“You represent the foundation for what this choir has accomplished over the years,” Said Dr. Isaiah McGee. “These students stand on the shoulders of your legacy at Claflin.”

At the end of the performance, Mr. Summers joined the choir in the singing of the University’s Alma Mater, proudly singing every word. There was a room full of people at that concert that night, but it seemed like the whole concert was for him — Charlene Slaughter

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