Gospel Fest Fills Chapel with Spirit


Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago came together with Colgatestudents, unifying the Colgate community in song and reminding them of the importance of inclusivity. 

Gaby Bianchi, Maroon-News Staff

Last Friday, February 19, Colgate hosted Gospel Fest, a musical celebration welcoming a chance to “Raise up your arms! Raise up your voice! Raise up your spirit!” The performance, true to its description, certainly culminated in the expression of all three of these things. Throughout the entire two-hour performance, the ensembles had the audience partake in the experience, allowing the music to wash over them while giving individuals an opportunity to express themselves through song and dance. 

The event showcased the talents of opening performer junior Jazmyn McKoy, the Colgate University Sojourners, the Colgate University Chamber Singers and Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago. The concert, located in the Colgate Memorial Chapel, began with a welcome from Protestant Campus Minister Reverend Corey MacPherson. Welcoming those from diverse faiths and backgrounds, Reverend MacPherson placed the importance of the night on celebrating love and each other, as well as finding strength in yourself and God. 

Since February is Black History Month, the performances were rooted in past experiences – the music became a bridge between the roots of gospel music and the progression of both history and music. Whitman explained to the audience that gospel music goes beyond solely a religious experience and becomes a means where individuals can find truth in themselves and find a way to believe in who they are, knowing they are worthwhile. 

“It was uplifting and empowering, but most of all, it was fun,” first-year John Bennett said. 

Whitman developed his ensemble thirty years ago. His primary motivation for founding the group was to use music to facilitate young people to find hope and inspiration in themselves. The Soul Children of Chicago are a non-denominational, non-profit organization.

After Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago performed, they invited Colgate musicians to join them onstage for a final few songs.  

“As a musician, it’s clear to see that every member of the Soul Children is talented and dedicated…But even beyond that, when I actually got to step up and sing with them, I could feel such a strong passion and joy for the music and its message. They were some of the kindest and most excited people I’ve had the pleasure to sing with,” first-year Brittney Dorow said. 

The Soul Children of Chicago consists of approximately sixty members. The high energy level of the ensemble was present in the exuberant style of dance and passion felt in their voices. The incredible range of emotion and control held by the ensemble was breathtaking. At times, the strength of the group swelled throughout the Chapel, filling every last nook and cranny. The wall of sound produced felt inclusive and inspiring. 

The entire concert stayed true to the invocation, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The powerful lyrics displayed themes of hope, love and self respect, and set the bar for the high caliber of talent. Overall, Gospel Fest was a remembrance of the past while looking towards a future that celebrates inclusivity through song.