2011-05-18 / Columnists
Amityville & More
Our Piece of the World
The Gospel Choir of the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Copiague is celebrating its 59th anniversary Sunday, May 22, honoring Mary Crews, Majorie Smith, Mary (Genie) Fisher and the late Virginia Collins, the Choir's founders.
The event is produced and coordinated by Eva Marie Crews of Amityville. She has made music a major part of her life. She was born to Abraham “Hammer” Crews and his wife Mary Ellen and was raised and educated in the Amityville School District. She first studied voice under Eleanor Fay, one of our well-known and dearly beloved music teachers.
After her graduation in 1973, her father died and she worked in the public school as a teacher’s aide for two years. She attended Farmingdale University and received an associate’s degree in social work.
This led her to Hofstra University where she studied opera under the Metropolitan Opera Singer Judith Depaul and attended Westbury, studying under Ken McIntyre and the late Juanita Manigolt. She commuted to Carnegie Hall to study with Chauncey Northern, studying opera as well.
Her career as a Jazz singer was short lived, and she went to work for the Long Island Railroad, retiring early. For 27 years she had the ability to stay close to home to care for the “old homestead.” She cared for her brothers, now deceased, and her mother who is 83.
Eva continued to sing in nightclubs, and Railroad events, testimonials, retirements, birthdays, weddings and even funerals. On occasions she sang the National Anthem at Penn Station and Fox 5 sent her taped version to Japan for the opening session of the Mets.
During the 90s, she sang at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Carmichael’s, and in 1997 she found her way back to church. It is here that she met her mentor Jewel McAshan, wife of the former Pastor of Bethel.
It was under this leadership that Eva helped to start the Mass Choir, secure robes and coordinate trips to raise funds for the church. Many of those trips were out-of-state excursions to the theater, crab fests and church affiliated events.
Her growth in music has brought her to be called psalmist, coordinator and now producer, where she is able to pull together the right people for the right job.
“Two Hearts” is her Native American name, and she has also acted in a few local productions. I have attended most of the musical events over the last 12 years starting with the Crews Family concert, the Tribute to Edwin Hawkins, a Tribute to James Cleveland, Songs of the Heart for Linda Hart, Women’s Day Musicals and the yearly Christmas concerts at Bethel.
Don’t miss this wonderful event and the opportunity to recognize all of the honorees and recognize the 59th anniversary of the church choir.
The event begins at 4 p.m. on Sun. May 22. For information, call the church office at 631-842-8463 or Eva Crews at 631-278-6843.