This issue of PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK
features "St. Mark Shining Star," the first in a series of
articles that will give you an inside look at some of the dedicated members of
St. Mark. Shining Star articles will highlight members' contributions to St.
Mark, their accomplishments, community service and interesting
St. Mark Shining Stars can be any of our
members, clergy or staff; youth or adult, well known or someone who quietly goes about doing great things to
make St. Mark, the community or the world a better place. If you
would like to suggest a member
to be featured in an upcoming issue, email
email@example.com. Please include why you feel the person would be a good
choice to feature as a "St. Mark Shining
Our Shining Star featured in this
issue is Jonita Latimore.
Pressing Toward the Mark
ST. MARK SHINING STAR
Meet Jonita Lattimore
mesmerizing voice of Jonita Lattimore is likely the first thing you notice about
her, if you've had a chance to hear her sing at St. Mark United Methodist Church
or elsewhere. Her infectious laughter and humble personality - despite being a
big-time name in the music industry - are likely the second.
soprano has gained international plaudits from music lovers since the 1990s for
such performances in George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," Guiseppe Verdi's
Requiem" and her regular appearances as a soloist with the Grant Park Symphony.
Still, Lattimore said, "Regardless of where I am or what I'm doing, I'm just a
regular old girl, child of God."
up in a music-filled home in the South Side's Pill Hill neighborhood. Her late
paternal grandmother was a pianist and a singer. Her late maternal grandmother
played the violin. Her aunt taught piano. Her parents both sang, as did two
other aunts. And her younger brother, Alex Lattimore, is a singer, songwriter,
arranger and horn player, whose making a name in neo soul, rhythm and blues and
always been surrounded by music, and St. Mark has a rich, wonderful legacy," she
said. Lattimore is a lifelong member of St. Mark, having come to the church
with her parents and subsequently joining just about every ministry St. Mark had
to offer over the years. Among the ministries she is currently active in is
Higher Education Ministry, which helps young people get through college. To
help raise funds for Higher Education Ministry, Lattimore will perform a concert
called "It Takes A Village to Educate a Student" on March 16 at 3 p.m. at St.
doesn't just hold a special place in Lattimore's heart for being her lifelong
church. It was also the first place where she performed a major solo
performance, she said. At age 8, she sang the boy soprano part in the St. Mark
Chancel Choir's performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah (it was traditional to
use boy sopranos as soloist when the work was written).
"That was a
big whoopdee-do," she laughed. Her family first got a hint that Lattimore had
talent for music when her late father took her to a toy store. "What I've been
told is...I found myself in front of a piano and instead of banging, I was
actually playing. My father was pretty amazed," Lattimore recalled. Her mother, Benita Lattimore, began taking her at age 3
to piano lessons with Angela Wright (and subsequently to Chicago Children's
Choir rehearsals, the Merit Music Program, Junior Achievement, etc.), who also
taught her ear training, harmony and theory. That training helped to shape the
musician Lattimore ultimately became, she said.
aided Ms. Lattimore's early artistic development include her paternal
grandmother, Alice Lattimore, the late Evelyn Gaston, director of the St. Mark
Children's Choir, and Mr. Charles G. Kendrick, Organist and Chairman of the
Music Department at St. Mark, who will be appearing in the "It Takes A Village"
Concert. "If I were to name them all, we'd have all names in this article," she
from Kenwood Academy in 1987, then went on to Eastman School of Music in
Rochester, N.Y. with a vocal scholarship. Lattimore also received a fellowship
and a graduate degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana.
since appeared with the Houston Grand Opera, the Northern Israel Symphony, and
the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Lyric's Center for American Artists (now known as
Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center), to name a few. Lattimore said
there have been too many highlights during her career to mention them all. Some
recent ones, though, include singing as the soprano soloist at the Kennedy
Center in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's
death; being treated like a "rock star" in Costa Rica and performing at Carnegie
Hall in New York with a few of her family members in the audience.
spends her time in Chicago with her daughter 10-year-old Joyelle. She also
teaches music and classical voice at Roosevelt University and classical plus
(musical theater, jazz, gospel, R & B, pop and rock) at Columbia College
Chicago, reminding students to "sing to express, not to impress," she
said. Despite having been all around the world to
sing, Lattimore said she still gets nervous right before a performance. The
reason has less to do with the size of the crowd she's performing in front of.
It has more to do with making sure she is honoring the one who made it possible
for her to sing as well as she does.
"Every time I
open my mouth,... it is a ministry for me, no matter where I am. Because the
gift that God has given me is what I'm using," Lattimore said. "I always want
to move out of His way and allow Him to move through me."
St. Mark Offers
Electronic Giving for Your Convenience
church website at www.stmarkumcchicago.organd
go to the "Online Giving" link. Select a giving frequency that is convenient for
you: one time, weekly or monthly. Also, you may donate from your smart phone.
Simply scan the image using your phone's Quick Response (OR) code reader.
Authorization forms are available in the church
About St. Mark United Methodist
St. Mark United Methodist Church, the largest
African-American church in the United Methodist Northern Illinois Conference,
was founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1893. The mission of St. Mark is to
help persons grow in their relationships to God through faith in Jesus Christ,
to one another, and to the larger community, as it implements ministries that
make known the Kingdom of God on earth. All are welcome to attend church
services held every Sunday at 8:00 am. and 10am. For more information, visit
TOWARD THE MARK!
A. Slaton and Blanche H. Foster, Co-Editors
Payne, Copy Editor - Monifa Thomas, Copy Editor/Journalist
us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark United Methodist Church
Rev. P. Devon Brown, Senior
Pastor Rev. Dr. Barbara Morgan, Associate