Project funding by the Georgia & Nolan Payton Foundation



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The Georgia & Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Music consists of music, books, periodicals, documents, audio & visual materials, and oral histories. The primary goal of the Archive is to facilitate research and documentation of collections of African Diaspora sacred music (church music and religious concert music) created and/or performed by the multicultural population of Southern California.



Iris Stevenson - Biography

istevenson 500Professor Stevenson, a major artistic force in Los Angeles, has dedicated her life to nurturing urban youth. A gifted composer, concert pianist, educator, evangelist, music consultant, and vocal coach, she has trained and inspired thousands of singers and musicians over the years.

Iris Stevenson attended Villa Maria Institute of Music, one of America’s finest Fine Arts schools in Buffalo, New York. She continued on to Oberlin Conservatory of Music, as student and teacher. She taught at Canisius College in New York, while receiving her Master's of Fine Arts in Pedagogy from State University of New York at Buffalo. Iris was recruited by the Los Angeles Unified School District to teach at Crenshaw High School in 1985. The school has since honored her with the dedication of the Iris Stevenson Music Wing. Simultaneously in 2001, President Jacques Chirac and the Ministry of Education of France commemorated the global work of Professor Stevenson by re-naming their Fine Arts building in Tarare, France.

In December 1993, the world celebrated the widely anticipated movie Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, starring Whoopi Goldberg. This movie was inspired by the life and music of Iris Stevenson and the Crenshaw High School Elite Choir. Her recently released documentaries include “Rappin’ with Shakespeare”, “I Am Because We Are” with Madonna & the people of Malawi and “The Angel’s Flight” with Wataru Ezaki & Fujisankei Television.

Under her direction, the award-winning Crenshaw Elite Choir has performed Command performances at the private residences of Prince Charles at St. James’s Palace of London,England ; the Royal Grimaldi Family of Prince Rainier in Monaco; the Dalai Lama, and numerous Heads-of-State around the world including China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. They have performed regularly as Artists at several renowned Worldwide Music & Jazz Festivals, including Antibes, Nice & Jamaica.

Her untiring devotion to excellence in education, character building, performance, and all-around academics has lead to  superior achievement of the Crenshaw High School Elite Choir - winners of the International Choir Olympics Competition in Busan, Korea (2002), World Choir Games in Xiamen, China,(2006),and Graz, Austria (2008) bringing home the champion Gold, Silver & Bronze Medals.

Crenshaw Elite Choir has performed as Special Guest Artists with the Southeast Symphony Orchestra (John Dennison) in the World Premiere of the choral version of "Some Trust In Chariots" written by Iris Stevenson; The Yellowjackets (Russell Ferrante) in the World Premiere of the Maya Angelou Inaugural Poem "On The Pulse Of The Morning" at the 1996 Playboy Jazz Festival; Los Angeles Philharmonic (Yvette Devereaux) with the World Premiere of "The Easter Suite" written by Joe Westmoreland & Charles May; Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (H.B.Barnum) in the World Premiere of "Stand And Be Proud" also featuring Iris Stevenson's rendition of "America"; Cerritos Symphony (Gail Deadrick) "The Colors of Christmas"; Disney's Young Musicians Orchestra also featuring the World Premiere of "The Power Of The Dream" the 1996 Olympic Theme written by David Foster. Critically acclaimed “Tribute to George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” was arranged by Iris Stevenson and performed for Quincy Jones in May 1998. This same performance was requested at the 1998 Nice Jazz Festival as the Choir appeared with Lionel Hampton. Josh Groban’s award winning rendition of “You Raise Me Up” with Crenshaw Elite Choir was recorded ”Live at the Greek Theatre” and released late 2005. Michel Polnareff’s acclaimed recording of “When I’m In Love” and video was taped by Crenshaw for his highly successful 2007 World Tour.

Because of the her emphasis on Global Ministry, Professor Stevenson has developed Cultural Exchange programs and Sharing through Common Ground´´™ experiences. Professor Stevenson's music, in various genres and languages, has been recorded and she has received Grammy and Emmy nominations. Her published works include the internationally acclaimed Yes, Lord! Hymnal of the Church of God in Christ.

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