Chocolate Divas bring spirituals, storytelling to college stage

(1) Hope Shiver; (2) Dr. Kay Pace; and (3) David Keepman

(1) Hope Shiver; (2) Dr. Kay Pace; and (3) David Keepman

Chocolate Divas, sisters Kay Pace and Hope Shiver, will present the Beeville Concert Association’s final concert of the 2010-2011 season on Sunday, March 27 at 3 p.m. at the Gertrude R. Jones Performing Arts Auditorium at Coastal Bend College in Beeville.

This event has been designated the Cathryn Berninger Memorial Concert in recognition of her generous gift to the BCA. Additional funding for the concert comes from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation’s Janet Harte Memorial Endowment Fund.

 The Chocolate Divas’ program includes classical music combined with gospel, spirituals and down home storytelling that bring the listener into a world where Mozart, Faure and spirituals can happily share the same stage.

Soprano storyteller/actress Hope Shiver effectively renders the beauty of the African American spiritual with her clear voice and operatic training.

Concert pianist Dr. Kay Pace is a passionate musician who dynamically plays the music of the European masters with technical ease and mastery and can just as easily improvise in gospel and other African American music styles.

 The only daughters of Rev. and Mrs. J. D. Shiver from Mobile, Alabama, these southern sisters were raised in a musical family where talents were greatly encouraged. One aunt was an opera singer, and their school teacher mother, who sang in the church choir, was a major influence on their lives. “Her dream was to be a concert pianist, Shiver explained. “At age 13, since there was no piano available in her home, she realized that her hopes were out of reach. But she was determined to have one pianist in her own family.” To her great pleasure, a pianist and a singer—the Chocolate Divas– emerged.

As children, both daughters, Shiver and Pace, studied singing, piano and a myriad of other instruments. The sisters grew up teaching Sunday school, directing choirs and singing and playing solos in church and community. “We learned all the styles — classical, pop and gospel,” Pace said.

Shiver earned a Master of Music Degree from the University of Oregon and Pace earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree from Peabody Conservatory of Music (now The Peabody Institution at John Hopkins University) in Baltimore.

Shiver is a winner of the Madame Rose Vocal Competition, winner of the George Hawkins Playwriting Award and former Miss Alabama and Miss Congeniality with the Miss International Beauty Pageant. Shiver performed as a singer in opera and musical theater, and as an actress in theater, radio, TV and film. Her solo credits include approximately 90 performances with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Theater Under the Stars, and a host of other symphonies, opera companies and theaters across the United States. Internationally she performed in Greenland, Newfoundland, Labrador, Japan, France, Spain, Sweden, Egypt and Italy at Milan’s renowned opera house, La Scala.

Shiver has taught at the University of Texas at Tyler and is former director of vocal activities at both College of the Mainland (Texas City) and Trinity Valley Community College (Athens, Texas).

The Chocolate Divas will be accompanied during the concert at CBC by percussionist David Keepman, Shiver’s husband.

The concert is free to all students through high school age and to CBC students with their current student identification cards. Adults who do not hold BCA season tickets will pay $10 at the door.


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