Gospel Fest Resonates With Colgate Community


Jazmyn McKoy ’17 showcases her beautiful voice at Gospel Fest.

Sasha Balasanov, Maroon-News Staff

 Gospel Fest has been a tradition of Colgate’s for years, bringing music and love to everyone in attendance. 

On Friday, February 16 at 7 p.m., Colgate held the annual Gospel Fest at the Chapel featuring Colgate’s own Sojourners Gospel Choir, Colgate University Chamber Singers, alumna Jazmyn McKoy and the Kurt Carr Singers. 

University Chaplain and Protestant Campus Minister Corey MacPherson kicked off the event with opening remarks. He explained that Gospel Fest is a way to celebrate and honor Black History Month, and that the music has been bringing people together for years thanks to the wonderful performers and musicians.

The lights dimmed, and the first voice of the night was that of Resident Program Coordinator of the Chapel House Rodney Agnant. He sang “We Shall Overcome,” and his beautiful voice echoed throughout the Chapel. After his performance, Agnant welcomed the Colgate Chamber Singers directed by Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral and Vocal Activities Ryan Endris. 

This fantastic group of singers started with a cover of Mahalia Jackson’s “If I Can Help Somebody,” and the audience was immediately entranced. With one incredible performance after another, the group finished their set with “My Soul Has Been Anchored In the Lord” by Douglas Miller. 

Jazmyn McKoy ’17 performed next. She loved to sing througout her four years at Colgate; graduating didn’t stop her from sharing her gift. 

“She contributed here in beautiful ways we cannot begin to understand,” MacPherson said.

McKoy’s first song was a stunning tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the audience sang along and gave her a standing ovation. Next, she sang “He’s an On Time God” by Dottie Peoples. With a beautiful finale, McKoy gracefully introduced the next performers: Colgate’s Sojourners Gospel Choir.

The Sojourners Gospel Choir kept the audience on their feet for their entire set of songs, starting with “He Has Done Great Things for Me.” The incredible vocalists successfully brought each song to life.

The final group to step on to stage was the highly acclaimed Kurt Carr singers. The group was formed in 1987 by Carr, who has won four stellar awards. 

“[Carr] is one of the greatest gospel artists of our time,” the director of the Sojourners Gospel Choir said. 

To continue their set, Carr took the audience on a journey through the history of gospel music, starting in the 1920s with Thomas A. Dorsey and ending in the 1980s. Between songs he explained the cultural significance of each piece and its composer, putting an informative spin on the performance.

The Kurt Carr Singers made their 90 minute set feel like five minutes, with each song flowing seamlessly into the next. The group brought the diverse audience together through their enchanting and energetic performance.

One of the final songs was sung by 12-year-old Miles Caton. His voice was indescribable; after going viral at one of the Kurt Carr Singers’ performances, he plans to partake in America’s Got Talent. The audience went wild for Caton, as did all the singers on stage.

“I’ve had goosebumps for the past two and a half hours,” first-year Kaitlyn Colby said when asked about the performances. 

The swirling medleys and fantastic instrumentals were fascinating, and the incredible vocal ranges of the performers made for a striking evening. Gospel Fest is a wonderful part of the Colgate tradition and a great way to honor Black History Month. 

Contact Sasha Balasanov at [email protected].