NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) — It’s a plea to not let the music fade out.

“The legacy of this school is so important to not only the City of Newark but really to the world,” said Bob Wright, President of the Board of Directors of the Newark Boys Chorus School. “We’re the last urban-based chorus school in the United States.”

The private, tuition-free school for boys grades 3 through 8 is hoping to ‘sustain the note.’ Coming out of the pandemic, the school had trouble sustaining that note on its own, and last week, the school had a heartbreaking announcement.

“We have had to pause our operations, primarily the academics because we just did not have enough funding to keep it going,” said board Vice President Mary Bentley LaMar. 

With enrollment typically around 70 students, the school dwindled to about two dozen. Leaders say the school needs endowments to survive.

For more than half a century, the chorus has been a gift not just to the city or New Jersey, for that matter, but to the world. “They’ve been to Russia, Japan, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, just all over the world,” said Bentley LaMar. “England, Wales.”

“It’s deep. It goes deeper than just the music,” said Hunter LaMar, a graduate of the Class of 2009, a group that was the first-ever to perform at Newark’s Prudential Center when it first opened. “When I was growing up in Newark, it was not a kind place for Black children, in particular, Black boys,” said LaMar. “But the Newark Boys Chorus School provided a safe place for me to explore creativity, musicality, professionalism, and academic excellence.”

Now a full-time musician in Brooklyn, LaMar is calling on donors to support one of New Jersey’s most important programs.

“I do believe we’ll come back stronger than ever and be able to support the people of Newark with our artistry,” said LaMar.