Mama Foundation for the Arts: Musicals, Concerts and Education in Harlem

Executive Director Vy Higginsen and Gospel for Teens Choir in performance

Executive Director Vy Higginsen and Gospel for Teens Choir in performance at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, New York City, 2006. Photo credit: G.N. Miller.

Professional Development
Vy Higginsen's School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts

The School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts trains talented singers, musicians and arrangers. We help develop singers' vocal power and stage presence as well as teach a substantial musical repertoire. Participants have the opportunity to develop the habits and attitudes that create success in any endeavor.

Everyone Wants to Sing!

Whether you desire to sing professionally, express yourself in a worship service, or sing in the shower, singing provides an emotional and spiritual release. The School for Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts supports the beginner, seasoned singer, and those who sing for joy or those who want to professionally fine-tune their vocal instrument.

Wednesday Sings! Wednesday Sings!
Instructor Greg Kelly

Instructor Greg Kelly, Photo credit: Don Bailey

Gregory M. Kelly is one of our talented instructors and a producer, Grammy award-winning songwriter and an accomplished musician. He is both writer and musician for Vy Higginsen's sensational gospel musical, Mama, I Want To Sing and Music Master for Vy Higginsen's Gospel for Teens Program.

Timothy Riley is one of our talented instructors. See more about him below to the right.

Mama Foundation for the Arts
Vy Higginsen's School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts

149 West 126th Street
New York, NY 10027


Instructor Timothy Riley

Instructor Timothy Riley, Photo credit: Don Bailey

Drawing from the traditions of gospel, jazz, and R&B, discover the beauty and wonder of the voice that lives inside you. Designed for adults, this workshop helps nurture your confidence and assists in building the physical and mental habits that support you in owning and loving your voice. You will receive guidance on how to connect the music with your inner self and sing with authenticity and joy.

Sing as a choir, or if you want, step out for solo work. If you love to sing, your voice is welcome here. Sing. Have fun. Build community.

SESSION 3 (4 Days)
Tuesday, May 30
Wednesday, May 31
Thursday, June 1
Friday, June 2  $75
Class time 6:45 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday Sings Spring Concert

Wednesday Sings!


Melinda Alexander
Asari Beale
Tyreese Brooks
Denise Brantley
Frankie Chue
Vanessa Cruz
Charles Daniels
Nadine Daniels
Janet C. Gordon
Audrey Hayes
Wanda Hill
Davina Honeghan-Marshall
Aya Lamont
Linda Laverpool
Anita Lee
Eleanor Lewis
Latoya Lewis
Barry Manderson
Laureen Mannino
Michael Marotta
Grenetta Mason
Veronica Mason
Kazuko Minamoto
Yukiko Nakajima
Toshiko Nishikawa
Tomomi Nishiyama
Brenda Nowell
Theresa Phillips
Jacqueline Richardson
Arlene Rieara
Franklin Saunders
Loretta Scott
Deborah Singletary
Annette Smith
June Thomas
Sharyn Thomas
Cynthia Thrasher
Vanessa Truell
Judy Verne
John Whyte
Maya Yoshida


 Gregory M. Kelly
and Timothy Riley

"The Listening Bench" collage by Ramona Candy

RAMONA CANDY, The Listening Bench, 2011, acrylic and collage on canvas. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

An invigorating, inviting, and soulful performance by the Wednesday Sings! ensemble. Gospel, jazz and R&B songs that will ring your bell.

Wednesday Sings! is a group of adults who come together to learn harmony, pitch and control, and to create community.

SATURDAY, June 3 at 7:30 P.M.
TICKETS $15.00


Mama Foundation for the Arts
Mama Foundation for the Arts brownstone

This renovated five story brownstone on a residential block on West 126th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Pwell Jr. Blvd. in Manhattan has been the home of the Mama Foundation for the Arts since its inception in 1998. It includes the business and production offices as well as a classroom and rehearsal space. Photo credit: KE Photography Harlem.

The Mama Foundation for the Arts is in the core of Central Harlem's most thriving cultural and business community, surrounded by the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, The Apollo Theater, and the Lenox Avenue "Restaurant Row" featuring Sylvia's, Red Rooster, Corner Social and Chez Lucienne. The Foundation's warm, comforting environment was enhanced in early 2012 with a renovation of the second and third floors which included new furniture courtesy of The Nate Berkus Show. It is the location of the Wednesday Sings! classes, private vocal instruction, and rehearsals for the Mama Foundation’s plays and performances by Gospel for Teens.

Private Instruction
Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson as Doris Troy

Program Director and Music Master Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson as Doris Troy in Mama, I Want to Sing, circa 2004. Photo credit: G.N. Miller.

For Individuals and Groups

  • Improve vocal range

  • Expand vocal dynamics

  • Develop confidence

  • Sing without damage to vocal chords

  • Refine interpretation and style

  • Step out of the choir or group and sing solo

  • Preparation for auditions and performances

Policies and Procedures for Vocal Lessons

  • Call the Mama Foundation's office at

  • You will choose an instructor and an appointment after consultation.

  • All classes must be paid for a week in advance. Payment can be made by cash, Paypal or by telephone with a credit card.

  • Cancellations made at least 24 hours in advance will be re-scheduled according to students' and instructors' schedule.

  • Less than 24-hour cancellations—the payment is forfeited.

Register for 1 hour of private instruction for $75

Private vocal instruction consists of weekly hour long lessons: $75 per session.

InstructorAhmaya Knoelle Higginson

Private Instruction
$75 FOR 1 HOUR

Portrait of Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson

Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson is one of our talented instructors.

Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson has toured all over the world with Mama, I Want to Sing, and performed the leading role in Bermuda, Japan, and New York. She has worked consistently in New York theater and is a recent graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and Manhattan School of Music. She also serves as an Program Director and Music Master for the Foundation's Gospel for Teens art education program. Find more information on Ahmaya Knoelle on her personal site.


InstructorTimothy Riley

Private Instruction
$75 FOR 1 HOUR

Timothy Riley in performance

Timothy Riley is one of our talented instructors.

Timothy Riley majored in Vocal Performance and Music Education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In New York City he worked with the Boys Choir of Harlem and performed with The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir under the direction of Hezekiah Walker. Timothy also performs and teaches in Europe. In 2003 he performed in Let Me Off in Harlem with The Mama Foundation for the Arts.