Singing, Dancing and Clapping: Gospelfest

“Everyone is welcome to sing along, dance, or clap!” was the evening motto at Andover’s Gospelfest, 2010. The event was hosted by Phillip’s Academy’s Gospel Choir and featured performances by the Andover Baptist Church, Phillips Exeter and the Brooks school. The attendance rate was not particularly high, but positive spirits of all the choirs created a great ambiance. Gospel Choir co-head, Isabella Uria ’10, ushered everyone inside with a warm welcome while one of the evening’s pianists filled the room with positive music to set the tone for the evening. The crowd was very diverse, as audience members ranged from 6 to 70 years old. To begin the evening, Uria introduced the Phillips Academy choir and spoke of its impact on her, and the other members of the choir’s life.?She said, “Everyone knows that PA can get incredibly stressful at times but, [the] Gospel choir has always served as a light at the end of a tough week and an easy way to de-stress with people you love.” Isabella followed by acknowledging the other seniors in the choir and gave them a brief moment to reflect on the great memories they all shared through the Gospel Choir. The show began with a bang as the choir stepped on stage. Each member of the choir wore all black and the usual African printed scarves around their necks. The keyboard was set in the middle of the stage, making it easy for the crowd to interact with the music and really become a part of its rhythm. Directed by Hobart Yates, the Gospel Choir performed “Hallelujah, You’re Worthy” in which Ej Ejiogu, ’11 sang a solo. The audience really got involved in the show as they clapped along to the rhythm and beat. Many even sang along with the choir. The Gospel Choir then performed “Find no Fault,” in which Orie Idah ’11 performed a solo. The choir swayed to the beat and really enjoyed themselves while on stage. Their last song was “Lord, You are Good” in which Nneka Anunkor ’11 performed a solo. She ended the Gospel Choir’s performance on great long note that was followed with great applause from the crowd. Following PA’s choir, Brooks School Gospel Choir took stage. Directed by Shaunielle McDonald, the choir proved to be equally talent as that of the other performers. Brooks School had more male members of their choir and had many first year participants who were able to perform their first solos. The choir uniformly wore brown and gray and performed a total of three songs: “Let Everything That Hath Breath”, “Amazing Grace” and “For My Good.” The choir introduced themselves to the audience and then invited members of the PA choir on stage to give the crowd a taste of the medley that was to come later on. Comprised only of adults, Andover Baptist Church choir then went on stage to perform. Directed by Lance Bryant, the choir proved to be extremely talented and well-rehearsed as they performed “God Be Praised”, “I Almost Let Go” and “Awesome God”. The choir led the audience to clap to the beat and sing along in complete bliss. Phillips Exeter Academy’s Gospel Choir had a hard act to follow but was found to be just as great. Its members were well-prepared and had voices that carried beautifully as they sang “Set me Free”, “Troubles Don’t Last Always” and “I Will Bless the Lord.” After great applause and appreciation from the audience, a combination of The Phillips Academu Gospel choir and the Brooks School Gospel Choirwent on stage to perform. Performing “Total Praise” and “Everybody, Clap Your Hands,” the Phillips Academy-Brooks choir was able to get the audience really into the music. The many different choirs set out to spread love and by the end of the evening, the choirs succeeded. They left every audience member with a feeling of hope and joy that could not have been re-created by any other performance.