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Gospel choir to celebrate Black History Month

February 21, 2008

For the past three years, the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir has been coming to UW-River Falls to spread its message of love through song, and this year is no exception.

  The Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir will be performing a Black History Month program at 8 p.m., Feb. 27, in the North Hall Auditorium.

  The choir began performing in 1990 as the Minneapolis Community College (MCC) Gospel Choir. In its first year the group won one of the most important amateur contests in the state: the Amateur Talent Contest at the Minnesota State Fair.

  Since then, the group has won a Minnesota Music Award for Best Gospel Group and made several professional studio recordings.  The TCC Gospel Choir has also performed for audiences all over the country and performed with country star Trisha Yearwood.

  Gospel music can offer a very different type of concert experience for an audience member. The tradition began with black spirituals in the African-American church. 

  “They use a different quality of voice—strong and heavy, really moving,” J.W. Park, a professor in the music department, said.

  But Robert Robinson, the executive and artistic director for the choir, stresses the importance of combining the cultures of his vocalists to form one cohesive group.

  “They all have a love for gospel music,” he said.  “We try to share different styles of gospel and take people on a journey.”

  The musical program will include traditional African American spirituals as well as other forms of gospel such as contemporary R&B and rap-infused songs.

  Stephanie Webster, a vocal major, said the UWRF crowd could expect an entirely different experience of a choir than what the University choir usually performs.

  “A formal concert, which we give, has clapping between songs, but gospel choirs are much more engaging, with audience participation.”

  Keith Carl, also a student, has seen the TCC Gospel Choir perform for the past couple of years on campus, and is excited to attend the event again this year.

  “It’s a very inspiring group,” he said. “Not just spiritually—I’m not huge into religion—but it’s very positive music.”

  Robinson believes his group is unique because of the many different backgrounds his ensemble members come from.

  “This is a multicultural group and there aren’t a lot of those out there,” he said.  “It is amazing to me after 18 years to see people of all ages and backgrounds come together that didn’t necessarily come from the same kind of homes and backgrounds.”

  Members of the choir have many different professions, Robinson said. 

Some members are also housewives, business executives and people already embedded in the music industry.

  Robinson hopes that students, faculty and community members will come participate in the program next Wednesday evening.

  “We can all learn a little bit more about the power of the music,” he said.