Spirited Music Uplifts Claremont Audience

By Tori Mirsadjadi ‘12Editor-In-Chief

The Claremont Colleges’ gospel choir performed its final show of the semester on May 1, 2011. The gospel choir is a 5C group, made up of 16 active members, two piano players and a drummer. The group has been growing from the initial nine-member choir performing a cappella at the 2009 mariachi concert, and is now opening up places for faculty, staff and off campus individuals. “We are very excited about God’s increase!” said director and co-founder LaThelma Armstrong (’13).

Regardless of faith, all are welcome to join the gospel choir. Those who join the gospel choir do so with an understanding that the music has prayer at its foundation. “The key to really understanding and appreciating gospel music is not just the sound but also the meaning,” Armstrong said. The gospel choir, though not officially affiliated with Claremont’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, has been collaborating with the group in worship.

The gospel choir’s repertoire has grown from the original “music you would typically hear in a ‘Black Church’” and now includes Christian rock, songs in Spanish, and “any songs that glorify God,” said Armstrong. The gospel choir sings songs that are energetic and uplifting. Its members evidence passion and faith.

“I would describe the creation of gospel choir as a call from God,” said Armstrong. “I came to Scripps with some experience directing from High School. When I found out that there was no gospel choir at the Claremont Colleges, I immediately took the steps to create one.”

Kyra Martin (PO ’13) joined Armstrong in her efforts to form a 5C gospel presence. It was not an easy task. “The beginning of the choir was rocky,” said Armstrong. “Publicizing was very difficult and the students didn’t seem very receptive.” In its 2009 debut performance,  “Anointed Gospel Choir” had three sopranos, three altos and three tenors. Now nearly twice that size, the gospel choir group is enjoying a growing sense of community, sharing meals and fellowshipping with one another.

In the past year, in addition to performances at the Claremont Colleges’ McAlister center, the gospel choir has performed in Long Beach and at San Antonio High School. The group plans to collaborate more with area gospel choirs in the upcoming year. They plan to recruit more members and put on more performances.

“Our primary goal,” said Armstrong, “is to minister to the people of Claremont and share the love of God.”