James Bryant headshot

James Bryant

Jefferson Elementary School, McGuffey Elementary School, Walker Elementary School, Lane High School

For me, chorus and singing was an escape.  It was a way of — it really opened a lot of doors for me, my voice, because I was able to go in and perform in churches other than Black churches, and I had that exposure.  The allness of my voice opened a lot of doors.  I remember Mrs. Winifred Bogert, who was white, was my voice teacher.  So I was able to sort of crack a lot of those doors open, singing in churches other than the church that I grew up in.  Of course Trinity was always an integrated church, because I grew up Episcopalian; at that time, I was a member of Trinity.  And so it opened up a lot of doors.  And so much the band now — I don’t mean no harm or disrespect, but the band at Lane it just sucked.  Now Jackson P. Burley High School, that was the bomb, the Burley High School band.  Mr. Victor Sampson was the director.  Everybody waited for the Dogwood Parade to wait for Burley’s band to come in the rear; that was the highlight of the Dogwood Parade.