WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem State University’s choir, the Singing Rams, has performed on major stages across the country and around the world.
This weekend, the Singing Rams will hit the road for a special performance to honor the life and continue building on the legacy of a recent graduate who passed away over the summer.
Faith Webber graduated from WSSU in 2017 and went on to become a social worker. She was killed in a car accident in Cleveland County in August.
To celebrate her life, the choir re-named its scholarship after her. This weekend they’re headlining a concert to raise money for that scholarship.
“Her voice was a guiding voice,” said Singing Ram senior Nia Lewis.
Faith Webber’s voice guided members of the Singing Rams beyond music. Nia Lewis says meeting Faith while the choir sang at her high school is the reason she chose Winston-Salem State.
"We were learning the dances to it, and I was struggling with it," Lewis said. "Faith was there, and she was like, 'Just do it like this and you’ll get it.’ Just because of her hospitality and her warm spirit and the choir itself, I was just like, 'I have to be here.'”
Always one to demand respect, the choir gave her the nickname “Mother.”
“Faith was the type of person that would call you on the carpet but do it in such a loving way,” Lewis said.
“There were times when students would talk when they shouldn’t talk, and before I could breathe to say anything, Faith took care of it. They respected her for that,” Maestra D’Walla Simmons-Burke explained.
An accident connected Simmons-Burke and Faith’s class forever. While preparing for their holiday concert in 2014, the Maestra says when she stepped onto the podium, it collapsed.
“I remember falling and hitting my head on the counter,” she said. “I don’t remember the other part because evidently I had passed out. But the students said after the first hit, I fell again and fell on the concrete floor.”
Faith and her choirmates sprang into action. Simmons-Burke, who suffered a double concussion that day, says she owes them her life.
“The neurologist said if the students had not stabilized me and made sure I wasn’t moved, because I was hemorrhaging, then I probably would not have made it.”
With Faith leading the way, the show went on as planned. She sang until she graduated in 2017, traveling on every tour while completing her social work degree.
Last summer while on her way to investigate a call, she was killed in a car accident.
“Her parents, immediately after the services, said we want to do something to help the choir because the choir was special to Faith,” said Simmons-Burke.
With donations from them and choir alumni, the university gave the green light to rename the choir’s scholarship fund after Faith. This weekend, the choir will travel to her hometown of Shelby to put on a benefit concert for the fund.
“I’m a student that’s on scholarship and I know what it feels like to not know how I’m going to pay for this. For this to be something that’ll help someone else and hopefully have the same impact that Faith has had on us, on other people,” Lewis said.
“I can’t wait to be able to award some students and let them know where this award was coming from and why it should be so special to them,” added Simmons-Burke.
They hope this benefit concert will be an annual event – not just to raise money but to honor everything Faith did for the choir, and everything she meant to them.
The concert will be held Sunday, Feb. 10, inside the auditorium of Shelby High School.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Faith C. Webber Alumni Choir Scholarship can donate online.