Hidden History: Making a Joyful Noise! The Lock Haven University Gospel Choir

LOCK HAVEN, CLINTON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) A group of students on the campus of Lock Haven University join together in song       For this report we teamed up with the University's History and Communications departments - and this is their story about    the gospel choir- has been part of the campus' rich history for years- Here's Deja Summers-Searles.
    Tucked away in North Central Pennsylvania is a small Liberal Arts University that has played host to the melodies of time. Over the more than 40 years that the Lock Haven University Gospel Choir has been around, members of the Lock Haven Choir have charmed and amazed audiences with spirituals, traditional hymns and contemporary gospel music. It's a way to celebrate history, and to have fun.

 The choir has been the focal point of many of the University's Martin Luther King Celebrations. Whether they're singing with an accompanying piano, band or orchestra - or simply singing acapella - they find harmony with each other.

 "Everyone here we just love each other we, we, just have a good time and give praise to God." Said Joe Isidore, choir member

The Gospel Choir is run by students, who meet twice a week to practice for two hours to get the music right.
 None of this year's singers are music majors; their love of music comes for many, from singing in church back home.
That's why Cimone Weeks joined two years ago, and is now the choir's president.  
 
"I've sang since I was 4, um my older sister sings, my 3 older cousins sing " said Weeks

 "We all just produce one sound just to send a message out there to anybody" added Isidore

   Dr. Dwayne Marshall is the Lock Haven University Choir Advisor
 "It is a good inspiration, students use it because here there is no, uh, not that many places where they go to worship and it gives them the opportunity to do that."

Records are sparse, but the campus newspaper dates the Gospel Choir back to the mid 1970's .  The early choir was part of a larger group of singers from across the 14 State System of Higher Education schools.
Former members agree that like with many organizations, participation ebbed and flowed over the years.

 
"Most recently the numbers started to drop but I am seeing they are beginning to pick up again." Added Dr. Marshall

When interest in the group  was high, students carried their voices to events across the Eastern Seaboard.   When interest faded, members invited their friends and classmates to join.

The singers were a calming source for those making the transition to college life in rural Pennsylvania.

 
Today, the 10 person group rehearses twice a week acapella - just their voices - no accompanying background music.

The Gospel Choir has a strong commitment to community service.  They have been the opening act for a former Lt Governor of Colorado and the for the Grammy nominated actor Clifton Davis. Davis is known for his appearance on the hit series "Amen".
And when the students are not singing, they are helping the community.  In 2004, the group gained recognition for collecting donations for Lock Haven's flood victims.

 
While the gospel group attracts predominately African American students, everyone is welcomed to the group.  White, black, Latino and anyone willing to give it a try, even those who may not consider themselves very good at singing."
 
"Being an African-American student and Hispanic student, it means a lot for me to bring it out there and make it more noticeable." Said Cimone

Cimone Weeks is a sophomore majoring in psychology and biology. She joined to find friendship, camaraderie, and cultural identity.

 Like Weeks - Joe Isidore joined the Gospel Choir last semester on a similar note - but most importantly for the Man upstairs.

"Each and every one of us, we just, we one goal to praise god and it's good when you have a lot of people towards the same goal."
 

Learn more about Lock Haven University


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