After two long years of waiting, God’s Chosen Gospel Choir celebrated its tenth anniversary with this year’s Gospel Experience. On April 23rd, God’s Chosen held the annual event for the first time since 2019, under the direction of founder Craig Ramsey.
Ramsey discussed the challenge of holding a music event of this scale in the late stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was overwhelming. There was just a lot of emotions; I know there are a lot of different feelings with Covid and people coming back, not just singing but being back in big rooms and being at concerts and things of that nature. I’m just so proud of just how the students have really just worked together, you know the rehearsals weren’t easy, doing it with the masks and everything of that nature. But, you know, they carried a good attitude and a good spirit.”
God’s Chosen was joined this year by Footprints Gospel Choir from Providence College. Footprints was directed by Jermaine Curtis. Ramsey spoke highly of Curtis as a director and a friend. He also alluded to a vision for future collaboration to anticipate between Footprints and God’s Chosen.
After a brief intermission, current Gordon students of God’s Chosen were accompanied by several alumni, making up the God’s Chosen Anniversary Choir. Among these alumni were a number of 2020 and 2021 graduates who missed out on a senior year Gospel Experience. Ramsey made a point of honoring these students specifically.
Student leadership plays a key role in God’s Chosen. Students Bri Rivera, Bri Smith, Makesha Mercedat, and Jade Etienne all had the opportunity to direct or lead worship during the Gospel Experience. Ramsey took a moment to honor Rivera specifically, who he called at a “bridge” for the choir before and after the pandemic. He spoke of her commitment to and passion for God’s Chosen, even amidst a difficult season.
Rivera shared about the experience, calling this year a “redemption year.”
“After the pandemic, a lot of clubs and organizations took a hit, and Gospel Choir was not an exception to that. So through that hit, we were able to kind of rebuild, and people started coming back, and we had a really good sustaining group of about forty individuals who were committed to the choir this year … It’s a rebuilding year. And I think a relational year, so just building deeper relationships that can hopefully go toward the future.”
For many students in the choir, this year was their first year partaking in the Gospel Experience. Junior Makesha Mercedat, one of God’s Chosen’s student directors, has been a part of the choir since her freshman year. She said:
“I think it was a thrilling experience; it was so much fun. . . . It was just good to be back together worshiping and praising the lord together and just saying thank you for all the things he’s done for us. There’s different forms of like appreciation for him, for God. And I’m just so elated that we finally got to do it, after 2 years.”
God’s Chosen provides a unique opportunity for worship at Gordon College. Their traditional gospel style is distinct from the contemporary Christian music often played by other Chapel bands. Mercedat spoke on the importance of this uniqueness:
“I think [a lot of people need] . . . a form of worship that lets them express themselves very freely, not different genres but just like, straight gospel music, ‘cause gospel music is so rooted in celebration and in rejoicing and even some pain and struggle. So we come into that rehearsal room, we come with our pain and our struggle, and we leave with joy, we leave with rejoicing.”
In addition, Ramsey centralizes prayer and worship in the rehearsal process, as well as trying to cultivate a gospel family. Rivera and Mercedat both described their gospel family as a safe space for many. Rivera said, “People truly are not judgmental there, they leave a lot of their judgment at the door.”
Ramsey spoke highly of his students and their role in cultivating the community that makes God’s Chosen what it is:
“I’m just so humbled to be able to work with such hungry students for the Lord. People that are hungry for the word of God, and people that are hungry to draw closer to the Lord. They inspire me more than they think that I inspire them. So my prayer for them is to continue to grow with them, and continue to move forward, but the best part is really the students, and just the relationships that we build. And even with this tenth anniversary choir, starting to see how there’s these personalities, and these beautiful spirits that keep matriculating as the choir goes forward. So I see a lot of, these students, and different students [with] the same spirit. The best part is really the students. I take no credit for this.”