Brooke Thames, A&E Writer

It is well-known that Pacific Lutheran University has various choirs on campus, but a new group is attempting to break out of the traditional mold and throw a new kind of culture into the mix.

The Gospel Choir is a developing choral group whose goal is to bring cultural diversity and awareness to the PLU community.

A gospel choir is a company of vocalists whose songs are derived from the traditional Christian hymns and chants sung by black slaves.

Led by sophomore Teryn Reche, the Gospel Choir is attempting to add an element of cultural variety to the common choir experience.

“This choir is … not only for the African American community but also for those of diverse backgrounds … to connect musically outside of the traditional Eurocentric styles that are commonly represented here on campus,” Reche said.

Gospel Choir is not a new idea, however. A group of students passionate about representing African-American culture at PLU organized and conducted a Gospel Choir in the early 2000s. When the students graduated, the choir was suspended.

Inspired by a visiting choir that performed at last year’s Black History Month Concert, Reche spoke to Melannie Cunningham, the Director of Multicultural Recruitment, about bringing new life to the once-active PLU Gospel Choir.

“We wanted Black History Month to be big this year and to actually be recognized, so part of that process was also adding a Gospel Choir,” Reche said.

Cunningham set a performance date in February for Black History Month, along with providing a choir director for the group.

Support and interest from students has proven to Reche that she and Cunningham are doing something positive for the PLU community. The two have worked to resurrect the Gospel Choir in order to continue to pursue the goal of raising cultural awareness for students and faculty.

“I hope to accomplish actual diversity on campus with this project,” Reche said. “Just like with [Black Student Union] or any other club, you go there to learn about different cultures through education, experiences and hanging out in a community.”

Reche, who is African-American, has felt pressure to conform to the ideals of Western culture in the past.

Therefore, she also wants Gospel Choir to be a refuge that allows other black students to feel comfortable participating and immersing themselves in their own cultural traditions.

Her goal is to help others get in touch with and celebrate their ethnic identity through this new project.

The student reaction to the idea of a Gospel Choir seems to be positive, as well.

“It’s a good opportunity to add depth to our choirs [on campus],” first-year Sarah Giomi said.

First-year and member of the University Singers Choir, Sydney Davies agreed saying “it will be cool to see something different from the usual here at PLU and I’m looking forward to seeing [the Gospel Choir] perform.”

The Gospel Choir is anxious to receive participants who are excited to share this new cultural experience with their peers and who are eager to bring diversity and awareness to campus.

Participation in Gospel Choir is open to everyone, and anyone interested can attend the next choir meeting at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 in Mary Baker Russell Music Center, room 322. ◼︎

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