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Featured Memorial | Walter Turnbull

Walter Turnbull Obituary

NEW YORK (AP) - Walter Turnbull, who founded the Boys Choir of Harlem and led the organization to international acclaim and performances at the White House and Vatican, died Friday. He was 62.

Turnbull died in a New York City hospital, said his brother, Horace Turnbull. He said Turnbull had suffered a stroke months earlier.

Turnbull's death marked the latest in a sad string of events for the famed choir, which has been reeling from scandal since a choirboy accused a counselor six years ago of sexually abusing him. City investigators chided Turnbull for his handling of the allegations.

The chairman of the choir's board, former New York Mayor David N. Dinkin, said the board was dedicated to preserving the choir. The renowned institution has fallen into debt, and the 50-boy choir was evicted last year and now has a reduced, mostly volunteer staff.

Born in Greenville, Miss., Turnbull studied music at Tougaloo College and moved to New York to become an opera singer, eventually performing with the New York Philharmonic.

He founded the choir at the Ephesus Church in 1968 and built the after-school program into the 600-student Choir Academy of Harlem, which opened in 1993. The choir has released albums and been heard on the soundtracks of films such as "Jungle Fever," "Malcolm X" and "Glory."

Beyond its musical training, the choir provides educational and personal counseling each year to hundreds of inner-city children ages 9 to 19.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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