NMSU annual Black History Month gospel concert celebrates collaboration

January 31, 2012

The New Mexico State University Gospel Choir will make history this year at its annual concert to celebrate Black History Month on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Atkinson Recital Hall on campus.

Through a statewide collaboration and talent exchange, the special guest for this year’s “Gospel Celebration Concert” will be the New Mexico Mass Choir, approximately 50 members who live in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas. It is the first time the two choirs will perform together. The New Mexico Mass Choir has performed throughout the United States. Both choirs have the musical diversity that includes contemporary, patriotic and bilingual songs.

“Expect the grand finale to be a stirring and electrifying performance you won’t soon forget,” said NMSU Gospel Choir Conductor Bobbie Green. “The grand finale will be a history-making performance when both choirs (approximately 80 voices) are on stage simultaneously. And it promises to rock the house and bring the audience to their feet.”

Gospel music has deep roots in African-American history. The first gospel music originated as far back as the early 1600s when the first African-Americans were brought to the United States as slaves. They used call and response chants, improvisation and hand-made percussion instruments to communicate. The gospel, loosely translated, means good news.

“Gospel music connects, uplifts, motivates, and entertains people from all walks of life,” Green said. “It is fitting that we celebrate Black History Month and the gospel music genre which is such an integral part of American history, with two choirs that are so inclusive, embracing the diversity of people from all ages, all ethnicities and all walks of life; what progress we have made, considering the humble origins of gospel music from the early 1600s.”

The NMSU Gospel Choir was established in 1975 and frequently performs to packed houses at important multi-cultural events throughout the southwest. The choir has collaborated with other universities in the region, performing at Western NM University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The choir sang backup for two national recording artists, recorded a movie trailer, and performed with two sitting NMSU presidents, including accomplished pianist and current NMSU President, Barbara Couture. The choir has also performed for New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez.

“The audience can expect a very powerful and uplifting evening with two very gifted choirs singing selections from popular, contemporary gospel composers such as Kirk Franklin and Richard Smallwood.

Tickets for the “Gospel Celebration Concert” are on sale now at $10 for adults and $5 for students. For more information or tickets, call 575-637-7538.

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