“Lifting every voice”: A look at McDaniel’s Gospel Choir

The Gospel Choir will perform on Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. in Alumni Hall. (Marya Kuratova / McDaniel Free Press).The Gospel Choir will perform on Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. in Alumni Hall. (Marya Kuratova / McDaniel Free Press).

From down the hall, yards away, there is a loud and joyous boom of music coming from behind two closed doors. Walking into the room, chairs are lined up in disorganized rows at the back, a woman sits at a piano in the front of the room with a student on drums beside her, and a diverse group of people eagerly and rhythmically clap and sing along to uplifting lyrics. This is the pleasant atmosphere occupying a McDaniel College Gospel Choir practice.

Shelley Ensor, director of the choir, believes music is crucial and loves getting to express that with students.

“I absolutely adore working with the students and community members in the choir,” said Ensor. “Year after year the Gospel Choir is comprised of not only the most talented individuals, but also those that are kind, compassionate, and supportive. Gospel Choir is a safe place… when you take part in the Gospel Choir class, you will always leave feeling better than when you came.”

This positive, uplifting effect is likely a big draw for many students.

“I joined Gospel Choir as a way to relax and relieve tension from the newfound responsibilities of college,” said Jewoine Wilson, a member of the choir. “I stayed because of the euphoria I felt when singing.”

“The joy that I get from joined voices that genuinely enjoy what they’re doing is indescribable,” said Rhema Jones, another member of the choir. “I like learning new songs with Shelley because she brings the songs to life with her enthusiasm.”

These feelings of euphoria, joy, and enthusiasm can be easily seen on stage through the wonderful performances the group puts on.

“My favorite part about Gospel Choir; I’d say the sound,” said Wilson. “Produced by people who may or may not have ever sang before in their lives. The sound is one to behold.”

The Gospel Choir recently performed on Saturday, Nov. 9 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Woodlawn, Md.

More locally, they will be performing on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. at the Westminster Public Library and on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. at Alumni Hall.

All of the Gospel Choir’s performances are free to attend and open to all students and members of the community.

Not only is Gospel Choir great for entertainment, but it teaches lessons, too.

“I’ve learned to lead and listen to the balance of voices,” said Jones, speaking technically.

“Courage, I would say, is something we tackle quite often,” said Wilson, speaking more personally. “Random people are encouraged and taught to sing on their own, while we are taught to enjoy the thrill of performance and of our sounds regardless of what tries to hold us back.”

“Music is the backdrop to our lives. Music has been a major part in every aspect of this nations’ history,” said Ensor. “The message I’d like to pass on is that music is important. Don’t take it for granted. I encourage you to ‘lift every voice and sing!’”