Gospel music was always a genre of music that I knew existed, but didn’t know much about. That is, I didn’t know much about gospel music until I started singing with the Weber State University Concert Choir. Now that I’ve experienced it, Gospel Fest, an annual concert dedicated to gospel music, has become a tradition for me.

Each year, both WSU choirs, Concert Choir and Chamber Choir, participate in the annual Gospel Fest. Choirs from local churches also perform as a part of Gospel Fest, providing a unique mix of different styles of gospel music. Gospel Fest is a fabulous opportunity for students to come and experience this exciting genre of music.

The other choirs that performed with the Weber State choirs included a private elementary school choir sweetly singing hymns, Polynesian groups dancing and singing traditional religious music, and African-American Baptist choirs boisterously exhorting their faith.

For me, gospel music has a way of grabbing me and making me feel something in a way that no other music can. The combination of religious but not sect-specific lyrics and upbeat and exciting music speaks to me in a way that words can’t describe. Whether it’s a sweet choir of kindergarteners telling me about Jesus or an African-American chorus exhorting me and the other audience members to repent and come to Christ, they both convey a similar message in a fun and exciting way.

The energy of the other performers was infectious. As a performer last year, watching the other groups and choirs get on stage and have such a good time made it easier for me to get up there and have a good time too. Once on stage, I could feel that the audience was going to clap and stamp their feet and get into our songs just as much as they had for everyone else, and as a Caucasian girl singing her first African-American gospel songs, that was very comforting.

For students thinking about coming to Gospel Fest this year who haven’t ever been before, know that Gospel Fest is definitely different from other choir concerts. Audience members are expected to get up and participate in the music. That means singing along, moving and dancing in the area around your seat, shouting out amens and all sorts of other stuff as directed by the performers on the stage.  Even though you’ll be tempted to, don’t feel silly clapping your hands and swaying to the beat of the song; getting caught up in the moment is part of the charm and allure of Gospel Fest!

While every year is something to remember, this year, Gospel Fest will be extra special in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of this exciting annual concert. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

While most concerts have at least a tentative end time that they stick to, Gospel Fest can, and usually does, go long. Even though that could be a drawback, for me, the spontaneous nature of Gospel Fest is one of the things I love.

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