Damon H. Dandridge has been named Management Director for the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation effective July 1, 2018.
Dandridge, a published composer of spirituals and the former Director of Choral Activities for Bethune-Cookman University, was hired to “take the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation (NSSF) mission to the next level,” said Father Rudolph Cleare, who had served as NSSF Management Director and will remain as Development Director.
The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation is a Central Florida nonprofit established in 1996. The network of programs and services through which it impacts the public is known as Project Grady-Rayam.
“The NSSF’s threefold mission is to preserve America’s Negro spiritual songs from the slave era as part of our cultural heritage, provide training, development and scholastic assistance grants for young artists, and inspire the American public to embrace spirituals as a shared cultural legacy,” Father Cleare said.
“Over a span of twenty-two years the organization has worked directly with more than 50,000 clients including senior high school students, collegians, parents, educators and music professionals to award hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships for students pursuing vocal and piano studies in sacred music,” Father Cleare said.
Vocal and piano competitions held by the “Negro Spiritual” Foundation around the state in 2017 and early 2018 resulted in six music scholarship awards for Florida students from Orlando, Clermont, Jacksonville and Lake Worth.
The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation collaborates with churches, performing arts groups, and cultural or civic organizations to extend the rich legacy of the Negro spiritual through outreach in the form of workshops, lectures and recitals. The agency also produces an annual season of music concerts that stimulate and inspire the wider community. It commissions scholars and musicians to produce new works, hires professional singers and players in support of the American cultural community, and shares its resources and expertise with others nationwide.
In accepting the Management Director position, Dandridge said he is well aware of the Foundation’s many accomplishments.
“The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation has consistently put on the best programs,” Dandridge said. “We had worked together in the past, and I was honored to be asked to serve in this position. I consider myself a servant leader and I enjoy people, students and educating, and using the music to teach life lessons.”
“Father Cleare birthed this child and has given us all the tools to continue growing at 22 years old,” Dandridge said.
Dandridge said he looks forward to expanding the Foundation’s footprint in Florida and beyond.
“I’m a forward, big-picture thinker. The minimum bar we have is excellence,” he said.
For additional information on The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation and Project Grady-Rayam, visit www.gradyrayam.org