Choirs and singers from throughout Utah delivered messages of faith, hope and love for WSU’s 19th annual Gospel Music Festival in the Browning Center Austad Auditorium on Jan. 25.

The theme for this year’s festival was “Make a Joyful Noise: Shine Your Light.”

According to the program, the event aimed to remind people who are facing obstacles that everyone has the ability to make others feel strong and empowered.

Ron Brown, senior pastor for New Hope Fellowship, preached between performance segments and described each song’s significance. The first song to kick off the night was the Black National Anthem, sung by WSU student, Terri Hughes.

“I’ve really always had a love for music, but I do it for Him,” said Hughes in reference to God.

Hughes hoped her voice could help people stay in the moment during the show.

“Music means everything to me. Singing and praising God is very much a part of my family’s lives,” said Paul Weight, attendee and father of three.

New Zion Sound of Praise Choir worshipped and sang well-known songs, such as Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God.”

Attendees participated by singing and clapping along. Some said they enjoyed the environment of worshipping and praising God.

“This is a very comfortable environment,” Weight said. “I feel comfortable in thinking about God and our relationship with Him. It’s a welcoming way of worshipping.”

Fred King, an annual attendee from Ogden, said the atmosphere of the auditorium was uplifting.

“People should come to these events because it feels good to get in the spirit,” King said. “That’s what we really need more of.”

The Tongan Youth Mass Choir performed a Polynesian dance, similar to a Hawaiian hula, while shouting in praise.

Weber’s Gospel Music Festival encourages diverse choirs to take part in the event. Through diversity, attendees can grow more culturally aware.

According to Pastor Brown, The Kids Are Music Children’s Choir have been performing at WSU’s Gospel Festival for six years because it gives them a chance to celebrate diversity.

Hughes described her background in singing and the impact music played in her life.

“When I moved here and found a new church, I met Brother Thomas,” Hughes said. “He pushed my voice. I also love singing. I believe it’s a gift from God.”

Admission to the event was free, but attendees were encouraged by festival host WSU Diversity and Inclusive Programs to provide canned goods to benefit the Weber Cares Pantry.

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