Dec 01, 2013 | 1301 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Funeral services were held Nov. 24 at Grace United Methodist Church, Kearny, for Jeni T. Estill, called by critics “A Dramatic Coloratura Soprano.” She passed away quietly on Nov. 14 at the Hamilton Park Rehabilitation Center in Jersey City. A resident of Jersey City, Jeni was born in Washington D.C., the eldest daughter of Thelma Christine Smith-Estill and Dr. Don V. Estill formerly of Michigan and Washington D.C. Dr. Her godfather was the Hon. Thurgood Marshall.

Home schooled through grade six, Jeni was a graduate of Lincoln Junior High School, Central High School and Western Michigan College (University) in Kalamazoo. She then attended Wayne State University in Detroit and later earned two Master’s Degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University.

She taught in Detroit for seven years as a public school music teacher and Auditorium Supervisor. She later taught music at St. Ann’s parochial school in Newark. An accomplished pianist, Jeni played Bb Clarinet, violin and cello in high school and college bands and orchestras. She began her professional vocal career as a soloist with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony in which she played violin and cello for eight years. She has taught Jazz History at Hudson Community College and as an Adjunct Professor at (JCSC) New Jersey City University she taught voice, Survey of Music and supervised student teaching.

Alongside her sister Dr. Ann, they developed the first Black Studies Music Courses at JCSC. Among her many collegiate activities, she was a member and president of Theta Pi Alpha Sorority, Players, Band Follies and an initiate of sigma Alpha Iota International fraternity for Women. She has been past president of SAI New York and Northern New Jersey Alumnae Chapters. Her singing career took her to numerous countries including Germany, Austria, Italy, and Tel Aviv Israel where she was a resident artist of their opera company. She and her sister were presented in recital by their uncle Dr. DeWitt Dykes, Sr., R.A. on the occasion of the Knoxville World’s Fair in which his firm was a participant. The highlight of her career was her stellar performance with London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus singing the premier of Yardumian’s THE STORY OF ABRAHAM in Royal Albert Hall. She toured Europe with her sister as “The Coloratura Sisters” She leaves behind to listen for her heavenly voice two sisters, Jean E. Stewart, R.N. and Dr. Ann Estill and a host of relatives and friends. Services arranged by the Thiele Reid Funeral Home, Kearny.

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