Brenau University Gospel Choir Director Portia Burns, WC '12, leads the mass choir performance in Brenau's Pearce Auditorium on Nov. 5, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau hosts gospel music workshop

Brenau hosted its first community workshop and mass gospel choir performance on Nov. 4-5, 2017. The workshop enabled community singers to learn new gospel-style techniques and practices before joining the Brenau Gospel Choir in a performance titled All God’s People.

Gospel choir director Portia Burns, WC ’12, and members of the Brenau ensemble taught vocal lessons to more than 20 participants, including Brenau students, community members and even Music Department Chair Barbara Steinhaus.

“I love teaching in this style because gospel music is ‘home’ for me,” Burns says. “It comes naturally to me and is the reason I fell in love with music in the first place.”

Burns taught the singers – both aspiring and seasoned – proper vowel placement, breathing and other vocal exercises to curb some of the basic vocal faults people tend to have when they first start singing.

With a big assist from the programming endowment created by Brenau trustee Doug Ivester and wife Kay, the university will feature the Gospel Choir over the next year. Programs that highlight major genres of the unique American music art form will culminate in March 28-30, 2019, performances and workshops by some of the top artists in the field, including Brenau alumnae Karen Peck, 2018 inductee into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame, and multiyear Dove Award winner Sheri Easter, BU ’05, who performs with her husband Jeff, their daughter-in-law Shannon Easter, BU ’13, and son Madison Easter.

Among other performers on the bill will be the Craig Lewis Band, finalist in the nationally televised America’s Got Talent competition. All Brenau students, online and on-ground from all campuses, will be able to audition Nov. 5 for a spot on the program. Zuri Craig and Jeffrey Lewis have agreed to judge the final auditions.

Watch for details as they develop.

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