Soprano Charsie Randolph Sawyer, holds a Master and Doctorate Degree in Music from the University of Michigan. Her undergraduate study was at Youngstown State University in Ohio. A national and international performer, Dr. Sawyer\'s most recent professional performances as soprano soloist have been in Mendelssohn\'s Elijah with the Calvin Oratorio Society in 2004. In October 2004 she played the role of Clara in Gershwin\'s Porgy and Bess with Opera Grand Rapids. She appeared with the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2003, singing Mahler\'s Fourth Symphony and "Erntelied" by Alma Mahler as well as Adolphus Hailstork\'s "Four Spirituals" for soloists, chorus and orchestra, and Duane Davis\' "Spiritual Journeys and Spaces". She premiered three compositions by Lettie Beckon Alston at the International Symposium and Festival on Composition in Africa and the Diaspora at Churchill College in Cambridge, England. In January 2003, she toured in West Africa as director of the Calvin College Gospel Choir. In the summer of 2001 toured England and France as soloist with the Capella of Calvin College. In January, 2000 she released a solo CD entitled "The Unknown Flower" Song Cycles by American Women Composers. She is featured on the compact disc recording entitled "Spiritual Revolution: Vocal Music by Lettie Beckon Alston" released in 2005 under the Albany Music label.
She has accrued an impressive list of awards and prizes during her career as an artist. Among the most notable of these are the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Award, the Cultural Heritage Award, Giants Award, the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and the Christine Witter Award from the San Francisco Opera Merola Program. She was also a finalist in the Chicago Lyric Opera American Artist Competition. She has appeared with the San Francisco Opera (as part of the Merola Program), the North Carolina Opera, the Michigan Opera Theater, the Charlotte Opera, the Charlotte Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and a host of other regional organizations. Dr. Sawyer is a professor of music at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to her arrival there, she taught at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Lincoln University, (MO) Salisbury Conservatory, (NC) Western Michigan University, and Hope College, (MI) and Reformed Bible College, (MI). Dr. Sawyer is active in the ongoing research on the music of African-American composers. She has a special interest in the music of women composers from within this group. She has been bringing this music to international audiences through her recording and performance activities. As a result of these activities she has been honored in Italy, and invited to teach and perform in Australia. She is often invited to conduct choral clinics on music of African-Americans.
Dr. Sawyer is familiar to Midwest audiences for her recitals of African American art song. In 1989 she and her husband James founded the J.R. Randolph Company. The J. R. Randolph Company is a multi-cultural group with a vision to educate, entertain and challenge our community by presenting multi-discipline works of African-American composers.