Gospel choir to pay tribute to Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston performs at Arista Records 25th anniversary gala concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, in April 2000. Houston died Saturday, February 11, 2012, at 48. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Whitney Houston performs at Arista Records 25th anniversary gala concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, in April 2000. Houston died Saturday, February 11, 2012, at 48. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Megan Confer

The Kent State Gospel Choir will perform renditions of popular Whitney Houston songs such as “I Love the Lord,” “Help is on the Way” and “He’s All Over Me” at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Cartwright Hall.

Linda Walker, founding director Gospel Choir and music professor, said she wants the tribute to show people what an outstanding singer Houston really was.

“We’re doing a tribute to her because since her death there has been a lot of negative publicity, but I don’t buy into that,” Walker said.

Walker said Houston could do things with her voice that no other singer could do.

“She was the most technically accurate and gifted singer that ever lived,” Walker said. “People don’t know this, but she was a mentor to Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton and Jennifer Hudson. To these young girls, she was a big influence on them.”

After Houston died, Walker changed the program.

“I took four songs off the program, and replaced them with four of her popular songs,” Walker said. “We’re doing songs like, ‘I love the Lord.’ It’s kind of dramatic because at the end of the song the whole choir will sing.”

Walker said she formed the gospel choir in 1996 because gospel music was not being represented in the school.

“I founded the choir because there was a void with gospel music and spiritual music within the school of music,” Walker said. “I wanted to form a choir that would be diverse and that would include those genres of music.”

Walker said the gospel choir, which has around 70 members, is a diverse group.

“They represent all colleges, which is unique. The majority of them are non-music majors,” Walker said. “They not only represent all of the colleges, but they come from different religious backgrounds and different races and ethnicities.”

Walker said their theme song is “We Are Family,” which reflects the attitude of the choir.

“They are all like family to each other and to me,” Walker said. “I don’t tolerate any negative attitudes. Everyone has to bring a positive attitude to this class. It’s hard to sing gospel music and sing praises and sing the lyrics that we do, [while being] mad and negative.”

Contact Megan Confer at [email protected].