Gospel Choir members come together to sing praises

Katie Fickle

“It makes me cry sometimes,” said Linda Walker, director of the Kent State gospel choir.

Slowly tears ran down her cheeks. Walker wiped her face with a tissue and began to say how “amazing” it is to work with the people in the gospel choir.

“We have one goal,” Walker said, “to perform this music to the best of our ability, but what happens is, I see different students from different races begin to communicate with each other in different ways and to look at each other in different ways and see each other in different ways … that is powerful.”

Students, faculty and community members come together from diverse backgrounds to perform the major concert of the year, the gospel choir concert.

Sophomore Spanish major Todd Alba Jr. said he joined the choir last spring semester and has always wanted to be a part of it.

Alba has been performing since the fifth grade, and music in general means a lot to him.

“Gospel choir means a lot more to me because I can actually praise the lord and spread the good word of the Bible while I am singing,” Alba said.

For Alba the gospel choir is his family away from his home in Omaha, Neb., he said.

Alba said he grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, so gospel music was something he had to open up to at the beginning of his gospel choir classes.

“I saw people dancing, screaming, shouting and clapping, and I really wasn’t used to it. I was just kind of used to standing there with my back as straight as I can and singing to make sure that I could get the correct sounds,” Alba said. “It took me a while to open up and be active in the songs, but you will see me up there in the concert dancing and clapping along with everybody else.”

Junior psychology major Elizabeth Kratsas said she has been singing since she could talk, so finding a singing outlet was a top priority when she came to Kent State.

Kratsas said she joined the gospel choir when she was a freshman because she had never sung in a setting similar to a church choir, and found it intimidating.

KSU Gospel Choir Concert

Location: Cartwright Hall Auditorium

Date: Friday Dec. 9

Doors open at 7. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets aren’t required. Donations will be accepted.

With finals approaching Kratsas said she is excited to perform in the concert to help relieve stress, but she has looked forward to every rehearsal of the year as well.

Overall, Kratsas said the choir has changed her into the singer she is today.

“I think I am more open to bringing my voice out than hiding behind everyone else,” Kratsas said. “I feel like I am more outgoing in the choir than I was before.”

Anthony Imes, sophomore applied communications major, said every Monday at 5:30 p.m. he feels like he is at home because of the friends he has made in the gospel choir.

Imes said he was looking for a connection to church and singing, so the choir met that need.

“On a college campus there really isn’t a lot of praise,” Imes said. “Whenever I walked in there I just felt it. And it’s something I just don’t feel walking across campus.”

Imes said the members of the choir are all different, but they are a support system for each other.

“The things that it makes it so appreciative and so close, because everyone is so different,” Imes said. “We all come from different walks of life.”

Although the members of the choir are diverse, Imes said they all sound like one in his favorite song “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”

“It starts with a soloist who sounds phenomenal, and then the choir opens up,” Imes said. “It’s the perfect blend of around 40 completely different individuals, and it just comes together so well that it sounds like one voice.”

Imes said he hopes people will come to see the concert, and the audience should expect to feel a sense of “warmth” during the performance.

“You don’t have to be a religious person to take away something from this concert,” Imes said. “We have worked very hard, and we would really like to share with anyone who is semi-interested in music, fellowship, socializing or religion.”

Contact Katie Fickle at [email protected].