B-CU Gospel Choir Featured in Local TV Series

B-CU Gospel Choir Featured in Local TV Series

The Bethune-Cookman University Inspirational and Gospel Choir is the subject of a new vignette running on Central Florida’s public television and radio stations. 

The short, which ran earlier this month on WUCF TV as part of their “Florida Road Trip” series, chronicles the history of the historic choir once led by Mr. Albert Bethune, Jr. — the grandson of B-CU’s founder.

Gospel music and gospel choirs have served as vehicles of expression in the African-American community for as long as we have had a presence in this country. They carry the messages of Black joy and Black pain, Black celebration and Black suffering, and they are an important part of the legacy of a people who continue to shape the nation in which we live. 

“Across the nation, Historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, embrace gospel music as a way to preserve African-American traditions and culture,” said WUCF TV contributor Ericka Cotton in the video’s opening. 

In 1969, Albert Bethune, Jr. volunteered to serve as the faculty advisor for the institution’s first gospel choir, which at the time served mostly to carry on the traditions of a praise and worship experience during chapel services. 

“We as African-American people, we love to sing, we love to move. The choir speaks for God to everybody that’s there,” said Vertellis Kendrick (‘82), a former choir member and the current director of the Bethune-Cookman University Inspirational and Gospel Choir.

Though the choir performs very infrequently on campus these days, its legacy continues to permeate through the current members. 

“There is always a love for this school, one way or another, no matter what experiences you may have had, there is something about Bethune-Cookman that brings you back,” said Kendrick. “They become a family.” 

In 1992, the choir performed at then-President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, cementing its place in the nation’s history books. Today, the students enjoy traveling to perform their “remixed” versions of gospel classics and contemporary songs.

B-CU Gospel Choir Featured in Local TV SeriesCaption: Former President Bill Clinton visited B-CU while campaigning for the presidency. He and Tipper Gore, the eventual Second Lady of the United States, were so enthralled by the gospel choir that they invited the choir to perform in his 1992 inaugural activities.

“Believe it or not, it’s not always about the singing. You’re teaching them life skills. How to deal with each other, how to deal with me, how to deal with people. That’s really what it is,” Kendrick said. “It’s about the music, but it’s more about paying attention to who they are as a person and giving them that extra drive that they don’t know they need.”

You can view the full feature at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQkf8b6wn_c