The Bethune-Cookman University Inspirational Gospel Choir adds to the religious atmosphere of the University and to its many collegiate activities. This organization originally functioned for the sole purpose of furnishing gospel music for Wednesday evening prayer meeting and was organized by the Pentecostal Students. Since that time, its purpose has broadened to include gospel music for recruiting campaigns in order to portray a religious image of the university, as well as raise enthusiasm in prospective students for entering Bethune-Cookman University. The group has grown from approximately 25 originally members in 1966 to the present 40. Upon first emerging from the sole concern with prayer meeting, it expanded to travel to the Florida cities of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale to entertain and to raise funds for itself and host organizations. The present purpose also includes meetings achievements need of persons through music. The choir continues to spread the legacy of the founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, who stated that: “Our Whole School Is For Christian Service. “

The Gospel Choir is an extracurricular activity consisting of dedicated individuals who exemplify a deep appreciation for the music they sing. The choir renders a wide range of music to include rock and jazzy gospel, contemporary and blues gospel, as well as acapella renditions.

The choir is under the purview of the one Faculty member, acting as Coordinator and two staff members, acting as Musical Director and Chaperone. These persons handle business affairs to include arrangements for singing engagements. Out-of-town concerts are normally scheduled for weekends, while local community concerts are during the week. Such scheduling causes students the least interruption of their academic endeavor. Many concerts are performed in Florida, however, the choir travels throughout the United States. During the spring Vacation period, the choir schedules a ten day tour which include performances in Alabama, California, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North and South Carolinas, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and New York. Some of the Gospel Choir’s crowning achievements were performing for The American Dental Association in Orlando, FL in September 1996; Participating in the celebration of McDonalds Restaurant’s opening of their 25,000th store; Being invited to participate in a Black History Month celebration by the United States Navy at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California; Performing for Walt Disney Corporation in Orlando, Florida on numerous occasions and having the distinct honor of being invited by Mrs. Tipper Gore, wife of the Vice-President Al Gore to perform at the Fifty-Second Inaugural Prayer Services in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1993. Only three choirs in the United States were invited to perform and the Inspirational Gospel Choir from Bethune-Cookman University was the only choir invited from Florida. The Gospel Choir has also traveled to Havana Cuba in an effort to strengthen relations between Bethune Cookman University and The United Methodist Church as it relates to faculty and students studying abroad

Performances and rehearsals are under the leadership of the Musical Director and Coordinator, even to include the making of recordings. All previously made recordings have been sold, indicative of the popularity of the choir. Rehearsals are normally conducted in the Heymn Chapel, Kottle Building, or the Robinson Music Building on campus. The Choir, in effect, competes strongly with other musical organizations on campus for prestige and audiences attention. Rules are published for the edification of the choir members and vigorously enforced. This activity, however affords no academic credit or financial aid for the members, or financial restitution for the Coordinator; it being a voluntary organization affording pleasure and satisfaction to these involved.

The choir membership is composed entirely of students, which has been true from its origin. The directors, during the period of the Choir’s existence, has been student, however the need has mandated that a full time Musical Director be hired by the Coordinator of the choir. The choir recently added a female chaperone to the staff to assist with student supervision.

There was an article published recently in the Bethune-Cookman University campus newspaper, THE VOICE OF THE WILDCAT; the article, written by a non-choir student, was entitled “Gospel Choir: HEAVENLY MUSIC.” The choir presently has a CD available entitled “Songs Of Inspiration”. It contains some of today’s hottest contemporary gospel hits. The members of the choir write some of their own music, permitting the pleasure of creativity while avoiding the complications of copyright laws when the choir makes recordings.

For information regarding sponsorship, please contact Mr. Ervin Ross at (386) 481-2099 or write to:
Mr. Ervin Ross, Jr., Coordinator
Inspirational Gospel Choir
Bethune-Cookman University
640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd.
Daytona Beach, Florida 32115