Charleston Crooner James Edwards Receives Prestigious NAACP Presidential Citation Award

(left to right) South Carolina NAACP state conference president Brenda C. Murphy and James Edwards

By Barney Blakeney

Charleston educator, vocalist and retired Charleston County School District Administrator James C. Edwards May 5 received the Presidential Citation Award from the S.C. State Conference NAACP at its Freedom Fund Celebration in Columbia.

“I was honored to bestow upon Mr. James C. Edwards the SC NAACP Presidential Citation Award for his role as a teacher, educator, student advocate, and community leader. His profound love of the arts and humanities will influence generations to come. He’s truly gifted and talented and is an influential role model and trailblazer. I wish him all the best,” said President Brenda C. Murphy.

A graduate of Burke High School Edwards, a Korean War veteran, earned a B.S. Degree from Allen University, obtained a Master of Education Degree from South Carolina State University, and the Master’s Plus Certification from the Citadel Military College. His further studies include coursework at DePaul and Atlanta Universities. His organizational memberships include the NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Shriners (AEAONMS) and Prince Hall Masonic orders, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion.

In addition to a stellar 35-year career in public education, retiring as principal of Sanders Clyde Elementary School, in 1959 Edwards founded the renowned Choraliers Music Club and served as its director for many years. He was choral director for the City of Charleston 1970 Tricentennial Celebration and the 1985 production of “Porgy and Bess” with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Edwards is a former minister of music for Morris Brown AME Church where he is Senior Trustee Emeritus and has served as music director for the Beta Kappa Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., founder of the Charleston PanHellenic Golden Voices of Greeks musical program, and is the current Imperial Soloist for the Shriners (AEAONMS).

Edwards has appeared on NBC’s Today Show with Barbara Walters, sang abroad in Germany with the Choraliers Quartet, and performed on countless stages, radio, and television programs. He has performed during Spoleto Festival USA, the Moja Arts Festival, with the British Broadcasting Company, the Charleston Stage Company (Show Boat), the Bicentennial Celebration of Historical Ft. Moultrie, during the dedication of the Tuskegee Airmen Monument and at the opening of the Joseph P. Riley stadium. As an octogenarian, Edwards continues to perform and judge various programs. In April he sang the National Anthem at the Charleston RiverDogs home opener and joined Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg in performing a series of melodies.

Edwards has received numerous awards including Charleston’s Jefferson Award for Public Service and Alpha Phi Alpha’s prestigious SC Living Legend award. Quoting Kahlil Gibran Edwards said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself (in kind service) that you truly give.”

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