Two of our choirboys were the subject of a prominent article in the Boston Herald on Sunday, January 27. After the recent tragic shooting of a Roxbury choirboy, the writer wanted to highlight the positive experiences of other choirboys in the area. The timing of the article happened to coincide with the Harvard Glee Club's visit to the parish on January 27.
Comfort in Choir
'It ... scared me a lot. It tells me that anybody can get shot.'By Peter Gelzinis
There is nothing that connects Damone and Devin Clark to Gabriel Clarke beyond a passionate belief that raising their young voices in song to God can displace some of the anxiety of growing up in what the cops call the "hot spots" of Dorchester and Roxbury.
Two weeks ago, Gabriel Clarke, 13, was shot in the stomach as he walked to choir practice at the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church in Roxbury.
Fortunately, Gabriel is on the mend, though he will grow up with a bullet lodged in the small of his back.
The incident took on a special resonance for Damone Clark, about to turn 14, and his brother Devin, who is 12.
"When I first read about that shooting and the fact that (Gabriel) goes to choir like me," Damone Clark said, "yeah, it kind of scared me a lot. It tells me that anybody can get shot. The bullet has no name on it. Anybody can be a victim."
This morning, as members of the All Saints Men & Boys Choir, Damone and Devin Clark will join the Harvard Glee Club in the choir loft of the ancient stone church in Ashmont Square.
At the 10 a.m. solemn high Mass, the Clark brothers will be singing the composition "Messe Cum Jubilo," in Latin, of course. But they can also sing Bach in German.
"I know, it's kind of weird, isn't it?," Damone says, a joyous grin s preading across the landscape of his face.
"Big kid like me from Dorchester, singing in a choir in this really, really old language.
"Singing in Latin, you know, it was really hard at first, especially coming where I come from. I mean, Latin's a lot different than rappin'. But it's like a different side of me I can show. Yeah, it's pretty weird, I guess. But I love it and I'm not going to stop."
His kid brother nods in agreement. "Singing with the Harvard Glee Club is so cool," Devin says. "It's like coming to choir helps me cope a lot and makes me relax and feel good."
"To grow up in a 'hot spot' is to balance the exuberance of being 13, or 14, with the sad, steely deliberation of having to second-guess your every move.
"When I go out," Devin says, "I'll always be kind of iffy about where to go. What street do I walk on? Should I take a left? Should I take a right? Should I turn around, or go straight? Do I take this shortcut, or that shortcut?
"But to be honest with you, this boy sighs, "when you (have) been doing this as long as I have, sometimes you really don't care unless something happens in front of you. You get tired, you know."
Damone Clark, who's played the cello since elementary school and loves basketball, has his heart set on going to B.C. High.
Emmett Folgert, founder and executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, the iconic haven in the middle of Fields Corner that is a touchstone in the lives of the Clark boys, has no doubt that Damone will make it happen.
"They are extraordinary kids," Folgert says, "who come here every day, to do their homework, or act in the plays we write, or break dance and sing, of course.
"And you know something, they're wonderful, but they're not unique. We are blessed to have so many great kids come here.
"And like Damone and Devin," he says with a warm smile, "they have this remarkable ability to push aside whatever ugliness or pain they may see around them, and fill that space with positive and challenging pursuits, like singing in Latin beside the Harvard Glee Club."
Reprinted with permission of The Boston Herald.