Gospel Choir Starts a New Year

gospelThe Southwestern Adventist University gospel choir, United Praise, starts a new year strong with fresh faces and voices.

Major changes have been made with this choir beginning with the new choir president. Samantha Howard, an early childhood development major junior and a happily married woman, has stepped up to the plate to serve as president for United Praise. Howard wasn’t quite sure that she wanted to take the position at the beginning.

“It really was God!” Howard says. “It wasn’t a decision that I made. Last year I was voted to be president and I let some of the choir members get to me. So I decided that I no longer wanted to be in that position… So I ran away from my responsibilities that God gave me. Then this fall it was a conversation with Pastor Ross that it hit me and I heard God say “Finish what I started and teach them.”

She has proceeded to show leadership and passion for the choir. The challenge of working with an entire new group full of freshmen has been tough but she has been working hard through the grace of God and His directing to get the choir to sound the best that they can be.

“I think that she’s a really good president,” says 18-year-old freshman nursing major Ashley Paige. “I like how she knows how to relate to everyone and she teaches great! I feel that her strong point as the president is that she helps people realize who they can become.”

Along with a new president is the new choir director Robert Leslie. Leslie, a 21-year-old sophomore theology major has taken over for the former choir director Pastor Keith Gray. Leslie tries his best to be the kind of director that Gray was.

“I still look up to him for advice. He still pops in every now and then to help us out and I have appreciated that so much,” Leslie says.

As the new director he is striving to see that United Praise reaches their full potential when it comes to praising and ministering. Leslie says that he is looking to go on a Spring Mission tour to either Atlanta or California. The trip is happening for sure, it is just deciding where they want to go. The decision has yet to be decided.

“I like how the change has given us a different spin,” says 19-year-old sophomore bio pre-med major Jonathan Louis. He had been in the choir the year prior when Gray was in charge. He loves the idea of a fresh start with United Praise’s new leadership.

Leslie is not only a director but also a friend to the choir members, which consists of nine sopranos, 14 altos and seven tenors. He connects with them and instills as much spiritual aspects into each and every rehearsal that they have.

“One thing that I do to motivate the singers is that we try to have worship. I try to use the song that we are singing and put a life application to it. I also try to know everyone on a personal level and try to be there for them. And a lot of people have come to me and they see that I’m not just the director, I want to be your friend,” Leslie says.

Freshman Felicia Christie is a biology pre-med major who has joined the choir. She feels really comfortable with the new singing family. She’s been singing since she was three and felt that United Praise “drew her in.” She sings alto and bass. One of her favorite things about being in the choir is harmonizing with people. Coming from Houston, Texas she felt that she never had the opportunity to truly harmonize the songs that she felt the need to sing all of the time.

“ The worships have really touched me. Our director, Rob, always have a little worship prepared for us. Usually when you go to a choir rehearsal it’s not always there.” says Christie. “ I also like the team that leads us out in practice. They treat us like equals.”

The gospel choir has been running for a number of years at Southwestern Adventist University. Every year there is always something a little different that makes it special. This year, with Howard and Leslie in charge, there’s a chance they can go far with this fresh batch of singers.

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1 Comment

  1. Heaven Stars
    September 26, 16:21 Reply
    Great Job B J Mondesir! As a member of a Christian band, I cant't stretch well enough the efforts that must be made in order to satisfy a Church audience. Hopefully more members can join while recognizing the need for an SDA Choir similar to the great Choirs out there. I can think enough of a better place of origin but SWAU. May God continue to provide Director Howard and the whole choir all the necessary love and care needed to succeed.

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