Kent State’s Gospel Choir raising funds to perform at international festival

Carissa Bowlin

Pianist David Thomas rehearses with the Kent State Gospel Choir Monday at the Music and Speech Building. The group’s performance is tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the University Auditorium. Procedes from the concert will be used to send the choir to the America

Credit: Andrew popik

Some students just don’t want to stay put.

And that’s exactly what will be on the minds of Kent State’s Gospel Choir members when they hop on a plane to Edinburgh, Scotland, for a performance.

The choir, directed Linda B. Walker, associate music professor, said the group will perform at the American Gospel Music Festival in mid-August, and it earned the title “Inaugural University Choir” after the festival chose the choir.

“They found us,” Walter said. “I was pleasantly surprised by the invitation and certainly did not expect it.”

Festival producers chose the choir.

“Kent State is the first college choir to commit to the American Gospel Music Festival and is inspiring many schools throughout the U.S. to accept our invitation as well,” festival producer Joe Battaglia said. “We are privileged to attract a choir of Kent State’s stature.”

Walker said she’s looking forward to the trip.

“I’m excited about the opportunity for the students,” Walker said, “but I’m just as excited about the opportunity to spread the word (of God) in a corner of the world where it is often overlooked.”

Donations to support the choir’s Scotland trip will be accepted at the group’s concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the University Auditorium, Walker said. There will be a silent auction from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. before the concert to help raise funds for the trip.

The university choir is nationally recognized and has performed in Italy, Eastern Europe, the Bahamas and throughout the United States, Walker said. The university will receive official recognition of its designation at a special dinner at the conclusion of the festival.

The American Gospel Music Festival is part of a three-week performing arts event, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It takes place in Scotland’s capital and usually brings hundreds of thousands of spectators to watch.

“This is going to draw quite a large and young crowd for a gospel concert,” Walker said. “Only about 12 percent of people in Scotland practice religion, and slim to none of this 12 percent are from the younger generation.”

Edinburgh is the largest festival of its type in the world. It has a budget of $15 million, which comes from sales of about 1.2 million tickets to more than 1,500 performances of music, dance, theater and comedy.

The festival boasts other choirs such as Avalon, Abraham Laboriel & Friends, Gary Anglin and the Voices of the CCC, and the Saddleback Gospel Choir.

Contact performing arts reporter Carissa Bowlin at [email protected].