As the IU South Bend Gospel Choir prepares for their Sunday, Nov. 15 performance, they show what praise and gospel music are all about: sharing it with friends and building a sense of community.
Gospel choir member and student Pierre Cooks said, “It means a lot to me to have a sense of spirituality and a sense of godliness here at IUSB. If nothing else, we have that foot in the door to be able to express our faith through song. People get a glimpse of who we are, what it means to be a Christian and how much fun we have on stage when we are singing praise and worship.”
The choir is open to accepting students as well as members of the community to join them for performances. The choir places value on including anyone who wants to learn how to sing and praise God through song.
Kara Stokes, an IUSB student in the choir said, “Here I can sing, but I can also sing about my faith and the God that means so much to me. It’s an awesome outlet and a good way to connect to other believers and to those who have never been exposed to gospel music or gospel tradition.”
Cooks said the biggest difference between the gospel choir and any other choir is the structure. In gospel choir, members sing, dance, stomp their feet and freely praise God. But as they are performing, the choir is still getting the classical training from their director.
“Gospel choir is an academic extension of a church choir. How we rehearse in gospel choir is very similar to what you would walk in on at a church choir rehearsal. There is no sheet music. Everything is done by the director singing the part and us singing it back,” Stokes said.
As of this semester, the IU South Bend Gospel Choir has new director, Marketo Michel. Michel is earning her Master’s degree at IU South Bend in Music and is taking over for the choir’s previous director, Tamra Garrett.
Michel directed her first ensemble over 12 years ago during an Air Force deployment to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. After which, she began a career in music and ministry.
“One of my goals as the gospel director is to bring in other areas from the School of the Arts, so that’s dance, that’s communication and drama, and really welcome them into our concerts, so we can show off what’s to offer here at IUSB. We are collaborating with the School of the Arts African Troupe to be a part of what we are doing. It’s kind of a preview of coming attractions,” Michel said.
The concert will include traditional and contemporary pieces of the gospel genre. Former gospel choir director Tamra Garrett will return as a guest soloist for the classic, “There is No Failure in God,” by Reverend Milton Brunson.
The IU South Bend Gospel Choir will be performing with special guests from the IU South Bend African Dance Troupe at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Campus Auditorium in Northside Hall.
Tickets are free to children and students with a valid student ID. Tickets for non-students will be available for $5 to $9 at the door.