They come from different backgrounds, racial, and religious identities, but the members of Hamline’s Gospel Choir have one thing in common: a passion to uplift others through song.
“Gospel is good-news music, it’s empowering music,” Sherri Orr, the choir’s director and an eight-year veteran, said. “Singing goodness out brings goodness in.”
The program, sponsored by the Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice, has been a long-standing Hamline tradition. With Orr’s expert ear and charismatic aura, the choir conducts weekly practices and a plethora of performances throughout the year. Past gigs have seen the group sharing stages with big-name ensembles like the Shiloh International Ministries Choir.
This year, under the leadership of sophomore Chloe Collins, membership has seen significant growth to over 25 members.
“I’d never sung in choir before,” Collins said. “This is a completely different type of singing; you have to use your chest instead of your throat.”
Collins says that people of all levels of skill and talent to participate; the only prerequisite is a desire to give it your all and have fun.
“It’s an amazingly diverse group,” Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, chaplain and director of the Wesley Center, said. “We learn about the breadth of the gospel tradition, learn new vocal skills, and sing everything from jazz to R&B to civil rights songs.”
But more important than musicality is camaraderie; the gospel choir is a supportive and affirming community.
“We want to bring together all different cultures, enhance the culture on-campus, and share a little hope with people,” Victorin-Vangerud said.
Orr agrees, saying that seeing students like Collins and community members grow close is her favorite part of the job.
“A gospel choir stage should look like a little bit of heaven,” Orr said.
Make sure to check out the Gospel Choir's live performances on campus:
Hamline Church Worship: November 6, 10 a.m., Hamline Church
Gospel Night: November 13, 6 p.m., Sundin Music Hall
Christmas Candlelight Service: December 7, 7 p.m., Sorin A and B
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration: January 17, 4 p.m., location TBD