HISTORY OF THE AFRO-AMERICAN GOSPEL CHOIR

In the summer of 1971, a group of 12 black students at the University of Alabama decided to enter a talent show sponsored by then, Afro-American Association.  They chose to sing a gospel song representative of source of their faith.  The performance on August 4, 1971, was the beginning of what was yet to come.  The fall of 1971, some 40 to 50 students came together in unity with the original 12 to form what we know today as the Afro-American Gospel Choir.

The Original 12 Members:
Cherry Bennett, Patricia Crawford, Bernadette Davis, Diana Glover, Henrietta Thomas Horton, Velma Jones, Merlene Jemison, Merceria Ludgood, Sam (Earl) Matthews, Deborah McKimstry, Pat Perkins, and Andre Taylor.

The first “AA Choir” was directed by Patricia Crawford of Birmingham, AL.  The musicians were Velma Jones (pianist) of Marion, AL, and James Pruitt (organist) of Birmingham, AL.  During the first year, the choir rendered and received blessings from concerts in various cities such as Birmingham, Greensboro, Fort Deposit, Mobile, Tuskegee, as well as our own Northport and Tuscaloosa.

In the summer of 1972, the first anniversary celebration took place at the St. Peter A.M.E. Church, where Rev. Hendrix was pastor.  As the choir marched in singing Step to Jesus, they set a precedent for years to come.  Songs like Joy comes in the Morning, Fill My Cup, The Blood, and The Time is now to live For Jesus, all continued to set the tone for the University’s gospel choir to go Sweeping Through the City, as Greg Clarke would lead this familiar song.  Other soloist like Merlene Jemison, George Walker, and Brenda Massey kept the spirit alive in this first anniversary.

From that point on, the Choir has had a powerful presence on this campus and everywhere it has been.  The choir has traveled throughout the southeastern United States spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ with song. The Family, as we are known, has gone through many trials and tribulations over the years, yet, when it is all said and done, we can always rejoice knowing that our faith in God has brought us through once again.  We have always been a choir that could fellowship with each other and others.  We have fellowship with the other college choirs in past years from institutions such as Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Montevallo University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of North Alabama, University of South Alabama, Shelton State Junior College, Stillman College, Auburn University and Tuskegee University.  This choir was founded on the principles of togetherness which has allowed us to be successful in our many endeavors.  Here are a few of those accomplishments:

1976 - Recorded first album “We’re determined to Give Ourselves to Jesus”
1976 - First place Choir Fellowship competition National B.S.U. Retreat--Alabama State University
1978 - First place Six Flags over Georgia Choral Festival
1979 - Recorded 45 rpm “Comfort Me”
1978 - First place Tuscaloosa’s Gospel Choir Competition
1980 - Spring break trip to Columbus and Springfield, OH
1982 - Spring break trip to New Orleans, LA and Mobile, AL
1982 - Recorded second album “New In Christ
1983 - First place Choir Fellowship competition National B.S.U. Retreat
1984 - First place Choir Fellowship competition National B.S.U.  Retreat
1985 - Third place Choir Fellowship competition National B.S.U. Retreat
1990 - Second place Choir Fellowship competition National B.S.U. Retreat
1993 - Recorded “Salute to the Trinity” with Church of the Firstborn Ministries
1995 - Spring Semester trip to Fort Walton Beach, FL
1996 - Celebrated 25th Anniversary
1999 - Third place in Choir Fellowship competition large division National B.S.U. Retreat, Houston, TX
2000 - Second place in Choir Fellowship competition medium division National B.S.U. Retreat, Atlanta, GA
2001 - Tied First place in large division Choir Fellowship competition National B.S.U. Retreat, Norfolk, VA
2001 - Celebrated 30th Anniversary
2004 - Second place large division Choir Fellowship competition National BSU retreat, Houston, TX
2005 - Second place medium division Choir Fellowship competition National BSU Retreat, Atlanta, GA
2006 - Tied 1st place large division Choir Fellowship competition National BSU Retreat, Atlanta, GA
2006 - Celebrated 35th Anniversary April 23- April 29
2007 - 2nd Place in large division National BSU Retreat, Charlotte, NC
2008 - 1st Place in large division Choir Fellowship competition National BSU Retreat, Dallas, TX
2008 - Praise Dance team won 2nd place at National BSU Retreat, Dallas, TX
2009 - 2nd Place large Division Choir Fellowship competition National BSU Retreat, Memphis, TN
2009 - 2nd place large division Praise Dance Competition, Memphis, TN
2009 - Most attendees at the National BSU Retreat
2010 - 1st place medium division Praise Dance Competition, Atlanta, GA
2010 - 1st place large division Choir Fellowship competition National BSU Retreat, Atlanta, GA
2010 - Most Attendees at the National BSU Retreat, Atlanta, GA


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