Charsie Sawyer

Charsie Sawyer

Charsie Sawyer
Professor Emeritus
Private Lesson Instructor
(Voice), Music
(616) 526-6823

Educational Background

  • D.M.A., Vocal Performance, University of Michigan, 1996
  • M.Mus., Vocal Performance, University of Michigan, 1980
  • B.A., Vocal Performance, Youngstown State University, 1977

Biographical Information

Charsie Randolph Sawyer is the Voice Area Chair person and Professor of Music at Calvin College where she teaches applied voice, Vocal Literature and Gospel Choir. She holds a Master and Doctorate Degree in vocal performance from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music degree from Youngstown State University in Ohio. She had toured extensively as a concert artist, conductor and clinician, nationally and internationally in Europe, North America, Ghana, England and Canada.

On the opera and concert stage, Sawyer, appeared with companies such as the Charlotte Opera Company and its touring arm the North Carolina Opera Company in over 300 performances, San Francisco Merola Program, Michigan Opera Theater, Charlotte Opera, Charlotte Symphony, Columbia String Quartet, Salisbury Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, LaCrosse Symphony, Alma Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, Calvin Oratorio Society, Kalamazoo Oratorio Society, Kalamazoo Bach Festival, Holland Chorale, Nebraska Wind Symphony, Omaha Symphonic Chorus, Nebraska Choral Arts Society, Toledo Symphony, the United States Air Force, Air Combat Command Heartland of America Band and a host of other regional organizations.

Favorite operatic appearances have included Olympia in The Tales of Hoffman , Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Margarita in Faust;  Clara in Porgy and Bess, Nanetta in Falstaff  and Clorinda in La Cenerentola. On the concert stage, Handel's Messiah; Haydn’s Creation; Mendelssohn's Elijah; Mozart’s C Minor Mass; Copeland’s In the Beginning; Knoxville Summer of 1915;  Undine Moore’s Life of a Martyr” with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Fanshawe’s African Sanctus with Jonathan Wilcox, conducting and Scarlatti’s Su Le Sponde del Tebro with the Grand Rapids Symphony.  Sawyer’s artistic skills have provided pleasure to audiences in many diverse styles of repertoire including recitals and gospel concerts.

Sawyer has accrued an impressive list of awards and prizes during her career as an artist. Among the most notable is the 2008 Legacy Award from the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Award, the Cultural Heritage Award, Giants Award, Community Cultural Awareness Award, Phi Kappa Lambda, the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and the Christine Witter Award from the San Francisco Opera Merola Program.

The Unkown FlowerOngoing research includes classical music of African-American composers.  She has a special interest in the music of women composers from within this group. Sawyer was awarded a McGregor Fellowship Grant (2005) to continue work on a book she is compiling of African-American Women Classical Composers. n January, 2000 she released a solo CD entitled The Unknown Flower: Song Cycles by American Women Composers. She has been featured on three other CD’s: Fare Ye Well, Art Songs by Black American Composers and most recently, Religious Music for Voice and Piano by Lettie Beckon Alston (2007).  Dr. Sawyer is familiar to Midwest audiences for her recitals of African American art song. In 1989 she and her husband James founded the J.R. Randolph Company, a multi-cultural group with a vision to educate, entertain and challenge our community by presenting multi-discipline works of African-American composers.

Having been minister of music, worship leader, choir director and soloist in many Christian denominations, Dr. Sawyer has worked with pastors, musicians, choir directors, worship leaders, and vocalists as a clinician and teachers for more than 30 years.  She was on the committee for Sing! A New Creation Hymnal Supplement and her publications include articles in the Leaders Edition -Sing A New Creation Hymnal, Reformed Worship Magazine, My Heart I Offer- Daily Reflections on the Journey of Faith and most recent Worship That Changes Lives:  Multidisciplinary and Congregational Perspectives on Spiritual Transformation (Baker Academic, 2008)

Prior to her arrival at Calvin, Dr. Sawyer taught voice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Lincoln University, (Mo) Salisbury Conservatory, (NC) Western Michigan University, and Hope College, (MI) and Reformed Bible College, (MI).

Selected Publications