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Three decades after she became the first African American to win the Miss America crown, actress and singer Vanessa Williams finally received an apology from the Miss America organization for the way that it handled the controversy in which she resigned following a nude photo scandal. Miss America CEO Sam Haskell issued the apology on stage at this year’s pageant at which Williams served as head judge.

It was a moment many had been hoping for and believed was long overdue. Although that was the climax of Williams’ appearance at the pageant, another highlight of the evening, and less talked about by mainstream media, was her stirring rendition of Amy Grant’s “Oh How the Years Go By” with the Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV).

The BIV joined Williams center stage for the opening performance of the pageant. Their performance of the moving ballad caused the audience to erupt into thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Broadway Inspirational Voices is a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational choir ensemble made up of actors and musicians from Broadway and off‐Broadway shows such as Aladdin, Book of Mormon, Cinderella, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Motown, Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. The BIV’s mission is “strengthening and unifying the New York community through the transcendent power of music. “

The choir was founded in 1994 by Tony nominee, actor, singer, and director Michael McElroy and became the place where he could express his unique arrangements of known and unknown songs in and out of the American gospel and theatre songbooks. In 2005, McElroy received a Grammy nomination for his work on the choir’s holiday CD, “Great Joy: A Gospel Christmas.”

The BIV is next scheduled to perform at Pope Francis’ Mass at Madison Square Garden on September 25. Other performers scheduled to appear include Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Hudson, Kelli O’Hara, Martin Sheen, James (D Train) Williams, and Norm Lewis.

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