By Carol McCracken
Since The Good Theater at the St. Lawrence Arts Center on the Hill began its holiday fundraiser ‘Broadway at the St. Lawrence’ five years ago, it’s become a centerpiece of MHN’s holiday observation. For the last two years, there has been an added attraction to the show for MHN. Both years, MHN has had the pleasure of sitting beside the mothers of two of the female singers in the show – last year MHN sat in the front row beside Jennifer McLeod’s mother and this year it was beside Ernestine Pittman, the mother of Marva Pittman – Marva has been in the show three years running now.
Both mothers insights into the lives of these two talented singers is fun to listen to. Marva has a big contralto voice that music lovers associate with African American gospel music singers whose first audiences were in the Baptist Churches of the South; and that’s as it should be because that’s exactly who Marva is!
According to Mrs. Pittman, Marva never took voice lessons until she reached college, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she now lives. Marva, 25 years old, teaches choral music to middle school students in Greensboro. When Marva was four or five years old, she started singing at their Baptist church in Raleigh, her home town. Her reputation grew and grew so that she was invited to sing all over the State of North Carolina. A few years ago, director of the Good Theater, Brian P. Allen worked with her in Georgia and invited her to participate in the holiday show at the St. Lawrence.
“Every year she sings, she rips my heart out,” said Susie Sharp, who comes down from Harpswell to see the holiday show with her mother. (By the way most of the second row at the Sunday afternoon, 12/7/, performance of the holiday show agreed with Susie’s remark and if MHN doesn’t include that, MHN’s heart will be ripped out)!
But that’s not all: Mrs. Pittman is an accomplished soprano herself. She sang solos in college and still does in her church in Raleigh. But curiously, the two never sang any duets. Mrs. Pittman, 58 years old, became too busy supporting her daughter in her singing career. She said she never gets nervous before one of Marva’s performance, but she does get emotional – occasionally dabbing at her eyes with a hankerchief – but then so was almost everyone else in the audience this past Sunday afternoon – the last performance of the 2008year at the Good Theater on the Hill.
“Ernie” (the name her husband calls her by) said that she would be interested in a mother-daughter duet next year at the 6th annual holiday show at the St. Lawrence. Good Theater Director Brian P. Allen said he would be interested in a mother-daughter duet next year at the 6th annual holiday show at the St. Lawrence. It could be a fit! Another tradition in the making.
Mrs. McLeod – would you sing a duet with Jennifer next year?