Teen Who Wowed Pope to Sing at Richmond Convention

[protected]The 15-year-old Philadelphia boy whose angelic voice stunned the world during a September 2015 performance for Pope Francis will perform this month at a service for the African American Ministers Leadership Council’s annual convention in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Bobby Hill, who last year delivered the impromptu, show-stopping a capella rendition of “Pie Jesu” for the pontiff, will perform Wednesday, Sept. 28 during the convention’s worship service at Broomfield Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 609 Jefferson Davis Highway in Richmond.

Gregory King, the new pastor of Broomfield CME Church in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Patricia Little)
Gregory King, the new pastor of Broomfield CME Church in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Patricia Little)

The Rev. Gregory King, council member and newly-appointed pastor at Broomfield, said Hill — a member of the Keystone State Boys Choir — has performed all over the world. The soprano-voiced youth, who was featured at the Ebony Power 100 gala late last year in Los Angeles, California, also brought hundreds of delegates to their feet this summer at the opening of the Democratic Convention with a flawless performance of the National Anthem.

“Bobby’s parents and I have been good friends for many, many years, even before they got married,” said King, former pastor of Russell CME Church in Alexandria. “He’s a very bright boy. He’s got this phenomenal voice and since [the performance], he’s picked up a number of Italian sponsors and has gone on to do opera in Vienna and Italy.”

The D.C.-based leadership council’s convention will take place Sept. 27-29 at Richmond’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The council is part of the African American Religious Affairs’ department of People for the American Way, which King describes as “a progressive nonprofit organization” launched more than 30 years ago by late Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan and famed TV producer Norman Lear.

“We also have the African American Ministers in Action, which is the political arm of PFAW,” King said. “Twice a year, we have an institute for African-American ministers of all denominations from across the country. This month’s gathering will be our fall institute., which follows the spring meeting that was held in Jacksonville, Florida. We usually hold our conventions in the capital cities of states because we like to engage state legislators in terms of issues that specifically relate to African-Americans, such as voting rights and the plight of young black males.”

King was still pastoring in Alexandria in April when the convention was steered to Richmond and organizers called on him for assistance.

“Leslie Malachi, the AARA/PFAW executive director, told me that since I was in Alexandria, she needed me to help organize the convention,” King said. “Well, [as in CME tradition] I knew that I would be leaving Alexandria and Richmond would be getting a new pastor. I was hopeful of heading north, not knowing I’d be appointed at Broomfield.

“So when I learned of my appointment to Richmond, I called Rev. Malachi,” said King, who’s also pastored in Philadelphia. “And she said, ‘you know, the Lord is just putting this all together in the right place for the right reason, and with us coming to a CME church, you’re the right person to help get this underway.'”

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Dorothy Rowley – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I knew I had to become a writer when at age nine I scribbled a note to my younger brother’s teacher saying I thought she was being too hard on him in class. Well, the teacher immediately contacted my mother, and with tears in her eyes, profusely apologized. Of course, my embarrassed mother dealt with me – but that didn’t stop me from pursuing my passion for words and writing. Nowadays, as a “semi-retiree,” I continue to work for the Washington Informer as a staff writer. Aside from that, I keep busy creating quirky videos for YouTube, participating in an actor’s guild and being part of my church’s praise dance team and adult choir. I’m a regular fixture at the gym, and I like to take long road trips that have included fun-filled treks to Miami, Florida and Jackson, Mississippi. I’m poised to take to the road again in early 2017, headed for New Orleans, Louisiana. This proud grandmother of two – who absolutely adores interior decorating – did her undergraduate studies at Virginia Union University and graduate work at Virginia State University.

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