"Dr. T" Tonya Armstrong
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"Dr. T" Tonya Armstrong

Durham, North Carolina, United States | INDIE

Durham, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
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""Choose Hope"-- "Dr. T" Tonya Armstrong"

Remember in Matthew 25, the parable of the talents, where the person with five talents went out and secured five more, and God was pleased?

I'm pretty certain that God is pleased with Dr. Tonya Armstrong.

That passage came to mind immediately after reading Armstrong’s curriculum vitae. A music major from Yale (like gospel violinist Kersten Stevens), she went on to secure a masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UNC – Chapel Hill and a masters in theology from Duke University Divinity School.

She also directed, wrote and arranged for the Yale Gospel Choir and an acappella group called Shades. She helps people overcome depression, conducts workshops through her Armstrong Center for Hope, writes songs, rocks a stunning ‘do, and sings. I'm exhausted just writing about all that she does.
Armstrong’s debut solo recording, Choose Hope, shows her affection for the hymns of the church. It opens with a light jazz version of Fanny Crosby’s classic “Blessed Assurance” and includes a straightforward reading of “It Is Well With My Soul.” “Papa’s Medley,” dedicated to her grandfather, Edwin D. Durham, combines several popular hymns, though the real plum in the medley is the “Peace Meditation.” It’s not what you’d expect. Here Armstrong, who up to this point in the CD has sung in a crystal clear, delicate, vibrato-less soprano, gets gospel bluesy. Her piano accompanist is tops.

While you can tell Armstrong has a trained voice from the first few notes on the album, her forays into bluesy runs are what’s most captivating about Choose Hope. This is especially true on “Choose You This Day” and the album’s highlight cut, the gospel waltz “He’s So Real,” the latter being the most ideal setting for her voice. Throughout, the arrangements are understated and calming, ensuring that the CD can serve as a tool for ministry and meditation, religion and spiritual reflection.

Three of Five Stars

gPod Picks: “He’s So Real.”

Reviewed by Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog. - The Black Gospel Blog


"Psychologist doctors with music"

DURHAM - Tonya "Dr. T" Armstrong knew before she was a teenager her life's work would lead her to mend minds and minister music.


"Different facets of my ministry are really a calling from a young age," Armstrong said. Her mother, Willa Carlton, who taught piano and sang in the church choir, nurtured her love of music. "I also knew that psychology was going to help me help people in their times of need and pain. I am able to have an impact on suffering at various levels."


Armstrong's new gospel CD, "Choose Hope," merges the two passions into a compilation that inspires hope in the midst of life's struggles and helps heal the soul. "Because Christ lives, loves us and towers above even our worst problems, every day is a new opportunity to choose hope," she said.


In the song, "The Colors of God," written by Armstrong and her father, Leo Farmer, listeners are reminded, "It's a part of life that we go through different seasons, different emotional challenges, but God is the kind of God that can meet us at our point of need and accept us, regardless of where we are."


Armstrong said she wrote "Choose You This Day" to express the broader theme of the "Choose Hope" album: the importance of making faithful choices. The album, which offers 10 songs infused with R&B, soul, jazz and classical genres, was co-produced by Thomas Banister and Raymond Watkins.


A Durham native, Armstrong graduated from Yale with degrees in psychology and vocal music, and went on to earn masters and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is in private practice as a psychologist at the Armstrong Center for Hope, serving children, adolescents, adults and couples. She also teaches pastoral care at Duke University Divinity School, where she completed her theology studies, and serves as the Minister of Congregational Care and Counseling at Union Baptist Church in Durham.


It has been through her research, teaching, clinical practice and ministry that Armstrong, 39, has noticed common themes that led her to focus on the need for hope, both in her academic writings and in her music.


"Hope is what really makes the difference between people going into patterns of self-destruction versus moving in the direction of positive transformation," she said.


Armstrong, married 17 years to Corwin Armstrong, is the mother of two. She hopes her CD inspires spiritual wellness by moving listeners to explore and express hope in everyday life. Along the way, she also hopes it "soothe our pain and elicit joy in the depths of body, soul and spirit."


"One of the reasons I wanted to share the CD is because music is accessible to everyone universally," she said. "Whether people read my publications or not, those same people can still hear my message of hope through my music."

- Triangle Tribune


Discography

CD--"Choose Hope" includes
Blessed Assurance 4:59
Papa's Medley 6:42
Choose You This Day 5:37
He's So Real 4:42
Colors of God 5:38
It is Well with My Soul 6:46
Rejoice! Pray! Give Thanks! 4:24
Hope in God 5:27
Big Brown Eyes 3:54
All My Sins Been Taken Away 3:20

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Bio

“Because Christ lives, loves us, and towers above even our worst problems, every day is a new opportunity to choose hope!” This inspirational message is the essence of the multi-faceted ministry of Dr. Tonya Armstrong (“Dr. T”). A native of Durham, NC, Dr. T is a clinical child psychologist, pastoral theologian, and musician who serves her local community and the world with concrete practices of hope that can be expressed in everyday life. With formal training in psychology and music (B.A., Yale University), clinical psychology (M.A. and Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and theology (M.T.S., Duke University Divinity School), she integrates these disciplines in the care of the hurting, especially those suffering from loss(es). Dr. T was a member of the Yale Freshman Chorus, one of the founding members and musical director of Shades a capella group at Yale University (www.yale.edu/shades), and a three-year choir director for the Yale Gospel Choir. She also has sung with the Voices in Union Choir and served as pianist and director for the Anointed Harmony Youth Choir at Union Baptist Church. For the past several years, she has taught pastoral care at Duke Divinity School and served as the Minister of Congregational Care and Counseling at Union Baptist Church in Durham. Finally, Dr. T is privileged to provide psychological and spiritual wellness through her private practice, The Armstrong Center for Hope (www.armstrongcfh.com). Through her research, teaching, clinical practice, and ministry, Dr. T provides counsel, consultation, and trainings to children, adolescents, adults, couples, families, congregations, community agencies, and educational institutions. By the grace of God, Dr. T’s music issues forth overflowing hope to soothe our pain and elicit joy in the depths of body, soul, and spirit.