Allen René Louis Set to Lead Broadway Inspirational Voices When Founder and Artistic Director Michael McElroy Steps Down in June; BIV Launches The Founder’s Circle Fundraising Campaign to celebrate McElroy’s Legacy

Michael McElroy and Allen René Louis. Photo courtesy of BIV

Broadway Inspirational Voices’ Founder and Artistic Director Michael McElroy will step down from leading the organization after 27 years, effective June 30, 2021. McElroy will pass the baton to composer/lyricist, producer Allen René Louis, currently the Associate Artistic Director and a talented member of the BIV music team and choir.

A Tony and Grammy Award-nominated actor and composer, McElroy established BIV in 1994 in response to the AIDS epidemic as Broadway grappled with the loss of an entire generation of artists. He envisioned an organization where a diverse array of professional performers would come together and volunteer their talents to provide comfort, joy, and the promise of a better day. As a result, the Broadway Gospel Choir was born. The magical synergy of authentic Gospel, Soul and Broadway bravura was re-imagined as the Broadway Inspirational Voices in 1999, and the choir, a diverse ensemble made up of actors and musicians from Broadway and Off Broadway shows, has been the theatre community’s center of support and celebration ever since.

2019 Tony Honor Recipient Michael McElroy, founder of Broadway Inspirational Voices and Schele Williams. Photo by Lia Chang

“For twenty-seven years, Broadway Inspirational Voices has been my heart,” said McElroy. “I do not look at this moment as an ending but a time for new beginnings. I am excited for what the future holds, and I am so thrilled to be leaving BIV in the exceptional hands of my friend Allen. When he joined BIV three years ago, I immediately recognized his talent and drive and have been preparing him to take the artistic reins.”

Louis was recently the composer, lyricist, arranger and music director for the inaugural Antonyo Awards, a celebration of black artists in the theatre industry, presented by Broadway Black. A rising composer in the industry, Louis will be a sustaining force in continuing and expanding the work for BIV.

It was also announced today that, as a major component of the transition plan, BIV has launched The Founder’s Circle Fundraising Campaign to celebrate McElroy’s legacy. With a fundraising goal of $300,000 by the end of June, The Founder’s Circle is an opportunity for diversity, inclusivity and community service-minded individuals, philanthropists, and members of the public and private sectors to support BIV’s mission and invest in its future and expansion.

Working with McElroy, the BIV Board of Directors has prepared a transition plan that includes a dynamic triad leadership team consisting of Board co-chairs Schele Williams and Robert Acton and newly appointed Executive Director and long-time choir member, Cynthia Vance, a former SAG Board member, industry advocate, and union leader. BIV Chair Emeritus and Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad will continue to provide her valuable support and guidance to the organization. In recognition of his 27 years of service to BIV, the Board has named McElroy a Director Emeritus.

Broadway Inspirational Voices. Photo by Lia Chang

Under McElroy’s leadership, BIV has delivered 27 years of music and service, partnering with organizations such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Actors Fund, Ronald McDonald House, and Covenant House. The choir recently joined Broadway luminaries in “We Will Be Back,” a special live pop-up experience in Times Square in commemoration of Broadway’s lost year of the coronavirus pandemic.

As BIV’s Artistic Director, McElroy’s arrangements have been performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Constitutional Hall, The Crystal Cathedral, colleges, universities and choirs around the country and around the globe. “Songs in the Key of Me,” BIV’s signature service event to bring awareness to Ronald McDonald’s House, has featured musical partners such as Sting, Jeanine Tesori, Tom Kitt and more. In addition to numerous concerts, the Grammy nominated choir has performed with award winning artists such as Mariah Carey, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Elton John, Vanessa Williams, Heather Headley and Billy Porter and has released two Christmas albums.

Marcus Paul James, Lillias White, Allen René Louis and Virginia Woodruff. Photo by Lia Chang

McElroy has played an instrumental role in bringing a diverse representation of Broadway together and transformed BIV into a flagship organization for the theatrical community and New York City. McElroy’s view of using music to bring awareness to issues such as disenfranchised youth and homeless; HIV/AIDS, and music education has made him an incredibly valuable ambassador for the Broadway community and the public and private sectors. McElroy’s influence has steadily grown the organization’s financial support, with major donors including Disney Theatrical Productions, The Shubert Organization, Benard L. Maas Foundation, and the John Gore Foundation. As a result of McElroy’s leadership and BIV’s impactful community service programs, in 2019 BIV received a special Tony Award for “Excellence in Theater,” an outstanding endorsement of the organization’s enduring work and service.

For more information about Broadway Inspirational Voices or to donate to The Founder’s Circle Campaign, click here.

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