Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 3:25 pm | Fair 85º

 
 
 
 

UCSB Gospel Choir to Spread the Good News for 25th Anniversary With Reunion Concert

The UCSB Gospel Choir performs in fall 2009. The group will reassemble myriad former members for a special concert June 2016.
The UCSB Gospel Choir performs in fall 2009. The group will reassemble myriad former members for a special concert June 2016. (Courtesy photo)
Victor Bell Click to view larger
Victor Bell (Courtesy photo)

Every Tuesday night, a group of UC Santa Barbara students and community members gather around Victor Bell as he plays the piano.

They clasp hands and say a prayer of thanks for life, breath and the chance to reconnect each week. Then they begin to sing.

This is the UCSB Gospel Choir, uniting people in song and the gospel tradition for 25 years. 

On Friday, June 3, more than 100 former and current choir members will gather on the UCSB campus for a reunion concert to celebrate the group’s achievements and to reflect on the past quarter century. The concert is open to the public.

For Bell, the choir’s director for the past 18 years, it will be a chance to catch up with former students and colleagues, many of whom he calls his friends.

“Seeing my current students and my former students is always overwhelming for me,” he commented. “I’ve watched them go on to sing professionally or get master’s degrees. I still keep in touch with a lot of my former students. Having a musical influence in their lives when they come in as freshmen and having involvement in their lives is important to me. I’m really excited.”

 “The UCSB Gospel Choir has proven to be an audience favorite time and again, presenting many sold out shows and drawing audience members from all over Southern California,” said Jill Felber, chair of UCSB’s Department of Music. “The unique community that the choir creates is a source of pride for the department, as we see students from all over campus, representing all types of majors, coming together to make music. Victor and his choir are guaranteed to put on an incredible show, and we can’t wait to celebrate with them.”

The mission of the gospel choir, which is open to anyone who successfully auditions, is to keep gospel music alive through practice and performance. Bell believes in sharing the “good news” (as the word “gospel” literally means) with everyone.

“Our mission is to expose the genre, including spirituals and anthems, traditional gospel music and contemporary gospel music embedded within the African-American church, to the community,” he said.

Over the years, the gospel choir has had the opportunity to travel, record an album and appear on a television show. The group also performs frequently on the UCSB campus, often outside, so people can discover the music while going about their daily business.

 Bell, who began playing music at age 7 and grew up singing gospel, seeks to share his passion for the genre.

“Gospel is everything to me,” he explained. “It’s what I was born and raised in. It’s really a part of who I am and how I express myself musically. Just to be able to share my experiences in gospel music with students and other people means a lot.”

The upcoming — and historic — will reunite the choir’s directors past and present (Bell, Diane White-Clayton and Jimmy Fisher). The group will learn all of the songs for the concert on the day of the show, practicing all day before performing that night.

“This is going to be epic,” said Bell. “All three directors of the UCSB gospel choir are going to be here. A lot of the alumni from the past 25 years are coming, some of them flying in for the occasion. You can expect to hear songs from the past 25 years.”

For the diverse group of students in the gospel choir today, having Bell as a mentor is a treat.

“Gospel Choir is one of the greatest communities I have had the pleasure to be a part of in my UCSB experience, due to Victor’s amazing direction and his emphasis on family,” commented Andre Taylor, Jr. a senior majoring in theater. “Throughout my past few years at UCSB, Gospel Choir has been my home away from home and has instilled lessons of love, forgiveness, hope and more, which I will keep with me for the rest of my life.”

For Bell, gospel music, with its message of welcoming all, is a natural fit for the university, and, he said, he is happy for it to have a home on a college campus.

“The genre of gospel music is very widespread, even in other countries, and to have it at a public university is really important because it exposes it to people who otherwise would not really know about it,” he explained.

The June 3 concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for non-UCSB students with ID, $5 for UCSB students with ID and free for children under 12.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.music.ucsb.edu or by calling the Associated Students Ticket Office at 805.893.2064.

Nora Drake writes for the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

 

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >