GospelFest Guest Byron Cage Boosts Students’ Spirits


On Friday, February 27, Colgate held its annual GospelFest in the Colgate Memorial Chapel, with headliner Byron Cage. It was sponsored by University Church, Sojourner’s Gospel Choir, the Office of the Chaplains, Africana and Latin American Studies (ALST) and the Africana, Latin American, Asian American, and Native American Cultural Center (ALANA). It was open to the public, free of charge, and over a hundred people, including students, professors and families from Hamilton turned out to enjoy the festive night.

GospelFest began about a decade ago, and past events have included performances by Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago, as well as Kirk Franklin. This year, Colgate hosted Byron Cage, a gospel singer based out of Atlanta, Georgia.

Senior Rachel Magege has been involved with Colgate’s Sojourner’s Gospel Choir for the past three years, and she has been involved with planning Gospel Fest for just as long. Since she became President of the choir last year, she says she has been hard at work with the Protestant Chaplain, the music director and the music department to prepare for this year’s GospelFest.

“This year’s GospelFest with Byron Cage was very special,” Magege said. “We began planning in the summer and throughout the whole fall semester and the first two months of this semester. We are very fortunate to have been able to receive sufficient funds for the event and our advertising was much more organized this time.

According to Magege, Cage was known among students prior to the event, making his presence even more exciting. He also differed in certain ways from previous artists hosted. 

“The unique thing about Byron Cage is that he had a small band,” Magege said. “This is very different from the previous artists we’ve had such as Kirk Franklin and the Soul Children of Chicago, who filled the stage with their choir members.”

The night began with an uplifting performance by Colgate’s own Sojourner’s Gospel Choir. After a few songs, accompanied by Colgate’s Chaplain Mark Shiner on drums, Cage took the stage, flanked by three background singers and a small band on the piano and drums.

Cage and his background singers began singing right away, encouraging the audience to rise to their feet and clap along with the song for most of the event. The almost hour-long performance was colorful and cheery, punctuated by religious praises and short monologues by Cage himself.

One of the more serious moments of the night occurred when Cage revealed that he had recently found out his heart was too small, and that he would need open-heart surgery. He reassured the audience not to worry, for he has faith that it will lead him through this time of hardship.

Overall, the event was a fun, music-filled, active way to spend a Friday night.

“I did not know what to think when I came to GospelFest, but it turned out to be a really fun night,” first-year Alison Sheehan said. “It boosted my spirits and put me in a good mood, and I definitely think I will return next year.