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Gospel Singer Ah'Lee Robinson Sings Out

For the past 20 years, Ah'Lee Robinson has helped young people find their own voices as executive director of the Kansas City Boys Choir and the Kansas City Girls Choir

Robinson is an accomplished gospel singer himself. On Friday, he’ll sing in a concert of "praise and thanksgiving.”

As part of our series, Artists In Their Own Words, KCUR’s Julie Denesha spoke with Robinson and pianist DorielDempsat a recent rehearsal. 

Interview Highlights: Ah'Lee Robinson and Doriel Demps

On being ready for an opportunity 

“I love to sing because I love to see the people’s faces — the looks on their faces,” Robinson says. “I have sung all over the country and I’ve been doing this for years. And so when the opportunity came to work with the choirs, it became so engulfing that it was all about the kids and it was no longer about me. So I had to put all my passion, all my energy, all my musical abilities into what these kids are wanting to become.  I don’t sing with the kids. I only develop them and get them ready because this is about them. But when my opportunity comes, I am ready and I look forward to it.”

On performing a seasonal repertoire

“Ah’Lee and I, we do a lot of teaching,” says Doriel Demps, music coordinator at Concord Fortress of Hope and pianist for the concert. “We have six choirs in this church and I teach those choirs. Ah’Lee has the whole city of choirs, teaches those choirs so we have a huge repertoire of songs to pull from. It’s funny. I don’t know if you do it Ah’Lee , but we file them seasonally, so you say Thanksgiving and we go through that folder and pull the best songs that would work for, you know, the day (laughs) or the event.”

On what makes him want to sing

“Great musicians make me sing, make me want to sing and so that’s what he (Demps) does," Robinson says. "He (Demps) never really plays exactly what I want. He always has a nice little flavor that he adds and I go yes that’s exactly, so it blends well and it just pushes me. It makes me sing. That’s exactly what it does. It makes me sing.”

On giving thanks 

“We take a lot for granted just because it’s part of our everyday routine, but at a moment’s notice, you know, that can change,” says Demps. “And so it’s a really great opportunity to just give perspective to us again and then also the audience listening of how good God really is to us and how every breath that we take is a gift.”

Westport Center for the Arts presents a free Brown Bag Concert Series featuring singer Ah'Lee Robinson and pianist Doriel Demps from 12:10 - 1 pm, Friday, November 21, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1700 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo. 

The Artists in Their Own Words series is funded by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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