Nia's Back to Africa Travel Campaign

by Nia Alsop

My full name is Nia Elaine Marie Alsop and I was born in Baltimore, MD, on March 2, 2004, but we moved to Washington, DC in 2005. I have been singing and performing as long as I can remember, but my parents recognized my abilities at my 6th birthday when I sang back my reply to the song, “How old are you?” With the perfectly pitched, “ I’m siiiiixxx years old.” Subsequently, I spent 5 summers at the Theatre Lab studying drama and musical theatre. When I was 10, I earned my first paycheck singing the National Anthem, at the Associated Builders and Contractors Conference. In Theatre Lab’s musical theatre workshop for pre-teens, I really enjoyed playing Golde in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Jack’s mother in “Into the Woods.” At Stuart Hobson Middle School, I performed as the Witch in their production of “ Into The Woods” and as Mrs. Gloop in “ Willy Wonka.” For several months, I had the honor of receiving vocal training from the late Denyse Pearson, who was a local jazz vocalist. While I was in the 5th grade, I studied with the Children’s Chorus of Washington. Last fall, I accomplished the long-held goal of being accepted into Duke Ellington School of the Arts. I was accepted into both the Drama and Vocal departments, but during the auditions, I realized that singing was my calling and so proudly joined the Vocal department. During my Freshman year, I earned a highly coveted spot in the Show Choir. With this group, I performed throughout Washington, DC and traveled to New York City to compete in the FAME Show Choir competition, where we took second place. Last year, I played, "Nancy Wilson" in our winter concert and sang, "What are you doing New Year's Eve? I don't know which part I will get this year, but I know it will be good! I am looking forward to continued growth in all areas of vocal and theatrical performance and have even started writing my own songs. I really hope we are able to travel to South Africa, because it would be great to collaborate with young musicians on the African continent, where it all began. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.


The highly acclaimed and national award-winning Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir has thrilled audiences throughout the United States, Germany, London, France, Japan and extensively in the Caribbean.  Organized in 1986 under the direction of Samuel L.E. Bonds and currently directed by Dr. Monique Spells, these student artists travel from neighborhoods spanning the entire Washington Metropolitan area to attend Washington’s premier arts-centered high school. 

They have performed at the White House for Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush and in inaugural events for former District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and President Barack Obama. The Show Choir has shared the stage with Earth Wind and Fire, Clay Aiken, Patti LaBelle, Jasmine Guy, Patti Austin, Boyz II Men, and Denyce Graves. The Choir has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and sang The Star Spangled Banner for the opening of the Washington Nationals first baseball game.

The ensemble’s incredible creativity and artistry so effectively combine singing, acting and dance that any performance space is virtually transformed into a Broadway stage. With an incessant devotion to providing a thrilling, high powered performance to audiences around the world, under the direction of Dr. Monique Spells, the members of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir, much like the great Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, are true ambassadors for the nation and the Ellington School.

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