Brenau Gospel Experience features variety of musical talents

Alumna Karen Peck Gooch, WC ’81, returned to Brenau University with her group Karen Peck & New River to perform during the Kay and Doug Ivester Endowed Program Series’ Brenau Gospel Experience on March 29-30 in Pearce Auditorium.

The group has five consecutive No. 1 songs in Southern gospel music and has received numerous Absolutely Gospel Album of the Year awards. They formed in 1991 and include Karen, her husband, Rickey, her sister, Susan Peck Jackson, son Matthew, daughter Kari and vocalist Grant Gibson.

“Never would have dreamed that 39 years later I’d be standing on this stage singing gospel music,” says Gooch, a 2018 Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee. “I’m out of my mind. I am beside myself.”

Gooch was joined onstage by Brenau music education major Arabia Jones, winner of the 2018 Brenau Gospel Experience solo competition and member of the university’s Gospel Choir.

During the Honors Convocation in April and spring commencement in May, some of the highest honors offered at Brenau University were given to students and faculty in recognition of their hard work and dedication. performed with her husband, Jeff. Their daughter, Morgan Easter Smith, her husband, Landan, and Jeff’s cousin, Jared Easter, performed as well. Jeff and Sheri Easter are winners of six Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and two career Grammy nominations.

National recording artist Ty Scott King, Vessels of Worship and the Brenau Gospel Choir also performed during the two-day gospel event, which included a panel discussion about the healing properties of music and a songwriting workshop.

Founded in 2001, the Ivester series has brought numerous speakers and events to Brenau including Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, Jack Welch, longtime CEO of General Electric, and Beyond the Talking Points: What Election 2016 Really Means to Women, a discussion with Republican pollster and strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson and Democratic organizer and commentator Maria Teresa Kumar.

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