The Rose City Gospel Ensemble was created in April 2008, to sing for a wedding. It was booked with Northwest Artist Mgmt, who commissioned soloist/conductor/co-bandleader, La Rhonda Steele, and pianist/co-bandleader, Theo Burke, to book twelve singers.
Their music was so well received, it was decided to form a professional ensemble to sing for other weddings and special events. Steele and Burke had been long-time friends and musical collaborators, particularly with gospel music. Along with their agent, Nancy Tice, owner of Northwest Artist Management, they have long looked for this opportunity to create just such an ensemble.
The singers are a group of experienced, professional and semi-professional vocalists who had already worked with Steele and Burke on many previous occasions. They learn the material very quickly and are enjoying forming new relationships with the other members of the group as they discover the joy that singing together creates. Since returning from working on the Presidential campaign in Ohio, Burke and the ensemble have been getting requests to perform just as fast as they can polish the act!
Steele and Burke have been assisted in the conducting of the choir by Roger Smith, an experienced professional choir conductor, who also sings bass in the choir. In fact, the group boasts at least five choir conductors, who are often invited to assist.
Steele and Burke write original arrangements for all the pieces they perform. They "Gospelize" standards such as "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, perform contemporary gospel favorites, medleys of traditional hymns, spirituals such as "His Eye Is On The Sparrow", and the occasional pop tune such as Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed and Delivered".
They also perform special programs of music for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday celebration in January, and for Black History Month
La Rhonda Steele is a well-known and much respected singer of Gospel, Blues, R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Motown. Since arriving in the Rose City in 1994, she has worked with the area's top bands including with Curtis Salgado, Norman Sylvester, Women in Blues, with Louis Pain's Tribute to the great soul singer, Wilson Picket, and with her own band accompanied by her husband, pianist, Mark Steele. She regularly sings for audiences as large as 30,000 at the Waterfront Blues Festival on the 4th of July weekend in Portland.
Steele was awarded the Jack Rosenberg Memorial, Musician of The Month by the Jazz Society of Oregon, in the October 2009 Jazzscene magazine.
Theo Burke has enjoyed a 20 year career in Portland as a solo pianist, bandleader, and choir conductor, most recently at Waverly Heights United Church of Christ. He has performed at over 200 weddings and corporate events. He is the founder of "Band Noir" which featured "femme fatale" singers performing the jazz "torch" ballads of the 1940's and 50's. He performed with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra in duet with Tonight Show with Johnny Carson's trumpeter and band leader, Doc Severinsen. On Sundays, you'll find him leading or accompanying a church choir somewhere in Portland.
Contact Nancy Tice firstname.lastname@example.org 503-774-2511
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