Cultivating Greatness: ORIGINS

The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation is a Central Florida nonprofit established in 1996. The network of programs and services through which it impacts the public is known as Project GRADY-RAYAM. The agency’s threefold mission is to preserve America’s Negro spiritual songs from the slave era as part of our cultural heritage, provide training, development and scholastic assistance grants for young artists, and inspire the American public to embrace spirituals as a shared cultural legacy. Over a span of twenty years the organization has worked directly with more than 50,000 clients including senior high school students, collegians, parents, educators and music professionals. It collaborates with churches, performing arts groups, and cultural or civic organizations to extend the rich legacy of the Negro spiritual through outreach in the form of workshops, lectures and recitals. The agency produces an annual season of music concerts that stimulate and inspire the wider community. It commissions scholars and musicians to produce new works, hires professional singers and players in support of the American cultural community, and shares its resources and expertise with others nationwide.


Most Rev. Thomas J. Grady (1914-2002) served as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando from 1974 until his retirement from ministry. He helped establish the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation and became a Namesake Patron to the GRADYRAYAM PRIZE In Sacred Music in 1996


Curtis Rayam, Jr.enjoyed a long and illustrious career as an operatic tenor in the international arena since his professional debut in 1971. He is a founding Trustee of the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation, and a Namesake Patron to its GRADY-RAYAM PRIZE In Sacred Music