Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Gospel choir sings for their faith

The rich, joyful voices of the Afro-American Gospel Choir are celebrating their 40th year of glorifying God through song.

The group started in the summer of 1971, said Cynthia Moore, who has been the AAGC adviser for 16 years.

“A group of 12 black students at the University of Alabama decided to enter a talent show sponsored by the Afro-American Association,” Moore said. “They chose to sing a gospel song representative of the source of their faith.”

The performance was in the fall of 1971, and around 50 students came together with the original 12 to form what is now known as the Afro-American Gospel Choir.

The choir today is still around 50 students strong and active in competing and performing.

At the National Student Baptist Union Retreat in March, the AAGC won the praise dance and choir competitions for the second year in a row.

Since January, they have performed every Sunday in churches all across the Southeast, from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, Memphis, Atlanta and Nashville.

Ebony Smith, a senior majoring in international studies on the pre-law track, has been in the choir for three years. She said being in the choir is an opportunity for both fellowship and ministry.

“I feel we have God’s anointing,” Smith said. “We really feel the music that we sing. We pray before every performance that the audience recognizes that this is a ministry, not just a concert.”

Samuel White, a senior majoring in telecommunication and film, joined the choir in the fall of 2003. He said he has been singing his whole life and cherishes the opportunity to express his love for God.

“I told my mom the first thing I was going to do was find a choir,” White said of leaving for college. “I love God, and I love to sing. So the fact that I can be a part of a group that sings gospel music is just awesome.”

Though White doesn’t sing with the choir anymore, he has an active role. He served as the choir’s chaplain, vice president and president from 2007 to 2008 and now serves as AAGC’s spiritual adviser. White said the group is appealing because it is student driven and run.

“It is the desire of each young person in the group that keeps it going,” White said.

The AAGC meets every Thursday to practice for three hours. The members also meet up for Bible study and other activities, making group feel more like a family.

“Many of the students join the choir as a freshman without knowing anyone,” Moore said. “Because of the time spent practicing and performing the students get to know each other very well.”

Senior Brittany Everson said she has been singing since she was 3 years old. She was drawn to the choir because of the family feel and the fact that she could share her passion without worrying.

“To be able to sing gospel music away from home and not be judged by my peers made me feel like I was at home,” Everson said.

The AAGC song book includes such numbers as “Jesus is a Rock,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Praise Him” and “Hosanna.” Smith said the choir director usually picks the songs for performances, but the singers can always make suggestions.

“If you don’t understand what you’re singing or why your singing, you wont be able to minister to others with it,” Smith said.

UA alumnus and pastor Darren Allen was a musician, soloist and assistant director for the choir from 1992 to 1996. For him, the choir was about bringing people together — he even married one of his fellow singers.

“Choir members put all their troubles behind when it was time to perform,” Allen said. “The fact that we came from such diverse backgrounds and yet found a way to blend our experiences into a single voice is one of the many special things about the Afros.”

The 40th anniversary celebrations will be happening all this week, culminating with the anniversary concert held at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Bethel Baptist Church.


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