KSU Gospel Ensemble to perform April 27

By Patricia Vansant/Executive Director Frankfort Arts Foundation Published:

The Kentucky State University Gospel Ensemble will present “Preserving The Legacy, Embracing Our Future,” a 45th reunion concert at 4 p.m. April 27, in Bradford Hall’s Carl H. Smith Auditorium on the campus of Kentucky State University.

Admission is $5 per person at the door. For more information, call 502-597-6600 or go online to www.ksugospelensemble.com.

The program is presented in partnership with the Frankfort Arts Foundation as part of its 2014 arts and cultural series.

“The KSU Gospel Ensemble has a great legacy and rich heritage. This group has touched the lives of thousands of students that have enrolled over the years,” said Leon Richard, choir faculty advisor and professor of music at KSU.

“Many former members have gone on to successful careers in various professions and the great memories bond us together. We provided a good outlet for the students resulting in many lifelong friendships. We look forward to seeing everyone again for this reunion.”

“This is a time to celebrate the rich history of the Gospel Ensemble’s spirit-filled music and legacy within the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the nation,” said James Davis, former student director, co-chairperson of this event, and an employee of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville.

In addition to the reunion concert, the gospel ensemble, their families, and supporters are celebrating with a series of musical and fellowship events all weekend. These will include a meet and greet family reception, alumni and current choir rehearsals and fellowship, and the KSU Gospel Ensemble Legacy Cabaret at 8 p.m. Saturday that is open to the public.

Long history

“The history of Gospel Ensemble spans more than 45 years. This reunion is more than music and energetic praise,” said Mario J. Radford, former student director and current minister of music at New Hope Baptist Church in Natchez, Miss.

“It’s about celebrating the past pioneers and embracing the future of continued success in spreading the message of Christ via gospel music.” 

The choir performs a diverse repertoire, including contemporary and traditional gospel along with spirituals and anthems. 

Choral groups from the 1969-1970, 1980s, 1990s, 2000-2009, and 2010 through today will present individual works.

“Past and present gospel ensemble members are coming from all over Kentucky and other states for a extraordinary reunion concert. The entire weekend will be devoted to rehearsals culminating in a Sunday reunion concert.

“The concert will consist of the mass choir selections and era performances from representative groups from the 1960s to the present,” said Richard.

Combined choirs

The alumni choirs combined with the current choir will perform together in a mass choir. Selections include “His Blood Still Works,” “Anthem of Praise,” “He Will Take Care of You,” “Holy One,” among others.

The KSU Gospel Ensemble was co-founded in 1969 by KSU students Joseph W. Tiggs and David Lyons.  The choir began with 15 KSU students.

At its inception, the KSU Gospel Ensemble started as a small student-run organization. As membership and interest developed, the university placed the choir under the guidance of a music faculty advisor and the choir became an official academic course under the KSU Division of Fine Arts.

Student membership in the Gospel Ensemble remains open to all students of the university and is representative of the diverse student body. The course objective is to provide an atmosphere where students can assemble and engage in wholesome activities. Also, the organization serves as a bridge between the university and church community. 

Through development of skills in the areas of singing, conducting, accompanying, and arranging, members receive a foundation in preparation for professional careers in music and gospel music.

Many honors

As recipients of several awards, the Gospel Ensemble has inspired audiences everywhere. The choir has performed on numerous occasions for statewide special events such as gubernatorial inaugurations, legislative events, and nationally recognized leaders for activities promoting social justice. 

In 1998, the choir was selected as Grand Prize Winners of the 1998 Creme of Nature HerbaRich Gospel Choir Competition sponsored by Revlon Inc. As Grand Prize winners, members traveled to New York City for a commercial recording session with gospel recording artist, Kurt Carr. More recently, the choir was awarded first place in the 2008 Louisville, Kentucky College Choir Explosion.

 “We encourage the Frankfort area community to attend the concerts. The music is dynamic and inspiring, and everyone will enjoy the performances,” said Richard.

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